California Supreme Court to hear People's Park case

The California Supreme Court will hear arguments over the historic People's Park, and whether UC Berkeley can legally build housing there. 

The state's highest court announced Tuesday the justices will hear arguments in Los Angeles on April 3, more than a year after a lower court ruled the project’s Environmental Impact Report was inadequate, the Bay Area News Group reported. 

It wasn't immediately clear, however, what argument the court will be adjudicating. 

UC Berkeley’s proposal for People's Park includes housing for 1,100 university students and 125 homeless residents within two 12- and six-story dorm buildings. 

Attorneys for Cal asked the California Supreme Court in February 2023 to hear the case, after a state appellate court ruled that UC must either "fix the errors" in its California Environmental Quality Act documents or ask the state Supreme Court to intervene. 

Critics of the housing say that students will be too noisy, and the university didn't properly study those effects on the surrounding neighborhood or look at adequate alternatives. 

However, Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks authored AB 1037 last fall, which says that "student noise" no longer counts as "pollution" that should be considered under CEQA. 

At the time, Cal's Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan Mogulof said the university was "dismayed" by the lower court's decision and planned to ask the California Supreme Court to overturn it. It wasn't immediately clear if Cal wants to continue to pursue the case, following the passage of Wicks' bill. 

The attorney for Make UC a Good Neighbor, the group that sued to block the housing, could not be immediately reached for comment, according to the Bay Area News Group.

People's Park, which is owned by UC Berkeley, is located east of Telegraph Avenue, bound by Haste and Bowditch streets, and Dwight Way.

People's Park was a symbol during the radical political activism of the late 1960s and has long been a place for protests.