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Berkeleyan

Regents approve plan for long-range development
Chancellor will continue negotiations with city of Berkeley over outstanding issues

| 26 January 2005

UC Berkeley’s 2020 Long Range Development Plan was approved on Thursday, Jan. 20, by the UC Board of Regents. Approval — accompanied by certification of the plan’s environmental-impact report (EIR) and the EIR for the Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies — came on a unanimous vote, following recommended approval two days earlier by the Regents’ Committee on Grounds and Buildings.

“This is a sound and carefully thought-out plan that will allow UC Berkeley to continue conducting cutting-edge research and providing a world-class education to California’s next generation of leaders,” said Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. “I am pleased that the Regents have approved the plan.”

Approval came despite a threat by the city of Berkeley that it would file suit against the Regents over aspects of the plan should it be approved. The city had asked for a two-month delay in certification of the plan to allow several pending issues with the campus to be worked out. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates told both the Committee on Grounds and Buildings and the full board that the city is dissatisfied with the LRDP; he advocates less parking and a plan that identifies specific projects to be built during the LRDP’s 15-year span. In addition, he said, the city wants to negotiate increased financial support from the campus for certain municipal services.

Both Bates and Birgeneau have said that negotiations on the latter issue are expected to continue, in hopes of averting a lawsuit that neither side would welcome.

A plan to meet key challenges

Each campus in the UC system is required by the Board of Regents to create a new long-range plan every 15 to 20 years. The need for a new plan has become increasingly acute at Berkeley, where enrollment growth and changes in technology and research have rendered many of the campus’s aging facilities inadequate or obsolete.

The 2020 LRDP is based on a faculty-led Strategic Academic Plan that identified key academic needs and challenges; it outlines a strategy to accommodate state-of-the-art research and foster academic collaboration while maintaining the campus’s unique feel and character.

The comprehensive plan is not designed to be project-specific but to function similarly to a city’s general plan, identifying land-use policies to which all future specific projects must adhere. Once those specific projects are defined, university officials will conduct further environmental analyses as required under state law, according to Tom Lollini, assistant vice chancellor for capital projects.

Campus building space for academic and support programs would increase by up to 18 percent, or as much as 2.2 million square feet, to meet the anticipated long-term growth in student enrollment and research programs. Most or all of this development would occur on land already owned by the university.

University housing for students would increase by as much as 2,600 new beds to allow more students to live closer to campus, a 32-percent increase over the number of student beds existing or now under construction.

University parking would increase by up to 30 percent (or 2,300 new spaces) over existing and approved parking, to improve the availability of parking for those who currently drive to campus. However, 500 of these spaces would be deferred until after the 2020 LRDP if AC Transit’s Bus Rapid Transit project along Telegraph Avenue is underway by 2010.

UC Berkeley officials first discussed plans for the 2020 LRDP with community members in spring 2003 and continued to inform the public of their plans through community letters, public hearings, and community meetings. They frequently provided briefings to city staff and discussed the plan with city officials.

The final LRDP released earlier this month has not changed substantially from a draft version released in April 2004, except to meet some city of Berkeley requests, such as decreasing parking and removing plans for faculty housing in the Berkeley hills.

As individual development projects are identified, campus officials will meet with city officials to discuss and review those projects, following the university’s standing practice. The 2020 LRDP also contains additional commitments to include city staff in campus review of project designs, to present campus projects to the Berkeley Planning Commission, to follow the city’s Southside Plan when it is finalized, and to respect the city’s General Plan for projects located outside the core campus.

In addition, Chancellor Birgeneau has made clear that he is committed to continuing to work with Mayor Bates to find acceptable compromises to any concerns the mayor may have regarding the 2020 LRDP.