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 Now nearly four decades into its life as a public space, People's Park must change if it's to become a better fit with the community at large, says a draft report on its future. (Jonathan King photo)

Draft report on People's Park study is open for comment

24 October 2007

Public comments are being sought on a draft report on the current state and future of People's Park, the result of a nine-month assessment of the UC-owned and long-controversial site.

The "People's Park Assessment and Planning Study" - undertaken to find ways to make the site safer and to encourage its use by a broader range of community members - was presented to the People's Park Community Advisory Board on Oct. 1. The report is now online.

The draft report was produced by MKThink, a consulting firm specializing in analysis and project development of the built environment. The study was conducted under contract to the campus and in consultation with the park's advisory board. The firm studied the park, its history, and its current uses, and collected, reviewed, and assessed the perspectives of community constituents and stakeholders.

Several broad findings, followed by specific recommendations, are outlined in the report. Among them are these:

. There is a broad desire for People's Park to remain, to some extent, a publicly accessible open space.

. The park should better fit the needs and interests of the local community and UC students.

. There is a lack of coherent guiding principles, long-term planning, and programming to anchor the park to the local neighborhood.

. The park is not an optimal place for providing food and social services.

. Greater intervention and oversight of the park is needed to make it safer and more welcoming to the broader community.

. Thinning and/or removing vegetation along the park's corners and in wooded areas would improve sightlines and provide better pedestrian access points to the park.

. There should be formal recognition of the park's history at the site.

The park's Community Advisory Board will meet on Monday, Nov. 5, when there will be an opportunity for the public to comment in person on the study. The meeting will be held at Trinity Methodist Church, 2362 Bancroft Way, from 7-9 p.m.

The board will make recommendations to the university on the study and next steps at its Dec. 3 meeting, also at Trinity Methodist Church from 7-9 p.m.

The draft report is available online at communityrelations.berkeley.edu/mkthink_oct_2007_DRAFT_report.pdf. Comments may be e-mailed to pplspark@berkeley.edu or sent by mail to the People's Park Community Advisory Board, 336 Sproul Hall #4208, Berkeley, CA 94720-4208.