University of California at Berkeley

Health Dept. Site Could Be Acquired In the Future

One of the bills that came out of the recent legislative session that could benefit the Berkeley campus is AB 2324, which would put UC first in line to buy property just west of campus now occupied by the Department of Health Services.

While the governor is expected to sign the bill written by Assemblyman Tom Bates, there's no need for anyone to start packing just yet.

"The site won't be vacated until at least 2001. So that gives us a good four years to plan for this," said Kevin Hufferd, a senior planner with Planning Design and Construction.

The site has been in the campus's Long-Range Development Plan as a potential acquisition opportunity for some time. It is of interest to the campus because "it is so close," he said, noting that it is located on Shattuck between Hearst and Berkeley Way.

The old building is essentially unusable due to structural and environmental problems, said Hufferd, and would likely be torn down. The mostly likely use for the campus in a new building on the site would be for labs and offices and possibly visitor services, he said.

Hufferd added, however, that the Bates' bill calls for the portion of the property fronting on Shattuck to be sold to the private sector for use as retail space to meet the city's downtown planning objectives.

Among the important issues to be resolved between the state and the campus is the price of the site as well who would pay the cost of demolition.

AB 2324 is similar to a bill rejected by Gov. Wilson last year because it linked the purchase of the health services site with preserving seasonal wetlands owned by UC at the Richmond Field Station.

Huffred said there is no longer a link in the legislation, but that the campus has agreed separately that 8.7 acres of grasslands at the field station would remain open space.

Another bill awaiting the governor's signature, SB 1864, provides matching funds for a California Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, if California's proposal wins an NSF competition.

The proposed center would be located at Berkeley, with involvement from five other UC campuses, Stanford, USC and CalTech.


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