A contentious meeting over a plot of land in Albany Monday night pitted UC Berkeley officials against Occupy movement representatives in a debate over the use of open space.
Council members are considering rezoning university-owned land at Marin and San Pablo avenues where the university wants to move forward with a development project.
More than 200 people turned out for the meeting, spending hours debating the plan to bring a Whole Foods Supermarket and 175-units of senior housing to a vacant plot of land that many want to remain vacant.
Those opposed to UC Berkeley's plan far outnumbered those in support with members of "Occupy the Farm" leading the charge.
"It's important to put our foot down and say no," said Gopal Dayaneni of Occupy the Farm. "This whole area should be preserved for the practice and promotion of urban agro-ecology."
A UC Berkeley representative argued that the no real farms had ever existed on the space of land.
"There's no farming there. There's never been any farming there," said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof. "There can't be farming there in the future."
The area slated for development is along San Pablo Avenue and used to house World War II barracks.
It's at the opposite end of the Gill Tract, where the university conducts agricultural research and where Occupy protestors planted crops during their takeover back in April.
Mogulof said the project is a good use of the space.
"It's an empty parcel and here we have a community that's clearly said what it wants," explained Mogulof.
But before construction can begin, the property must be rezoned and the environmental impact report approved.
Albany's community development director said the development project would boost the city's tax revenues.
"One of the things the city council has to look at is this is an opportunity for economic development," said Albany Community Development Director Jeff Bond. " It also is an opportunity to revitalize a part of San Pablo Avenue, the gateway to the city, that could use a little help right now."
Public comment was ongoing as the meeting stretched into the evening with more than 225 people in attendance. It was possible the council would not get to vote on the rezoning Monday night.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.