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Confused about the stadium ruling? What it says and what remains to be resolved

– In last Wednesday's court ruling, UC Berkeley prevailed in nearly every challenge connected to construction of its planned Student-Athlete High Performance Center — and the few remaining questions raised by the court should be resolved in the coming days.

"The judge clearly indicated that the Student-Athlete High Performance Center can be built on the proposed site," said Charles Olson, attorney for the university. "The judge disposed of virtually all of the petitioners' myriad legal challenges and requested additional information on two narrow issues."

The key points of the ruling are good news for the university:

  • The proposed student-athlete center is not on an active fault.
  • The center is a separate structure, not an addition to California Memorial Stadium.
  • As a whole, plans for the center comply with the Alquist-Priolo earthquake zoning law.
  • Where the judge questioned one UC finding on the impacts of later phases of the stadium plan, the university may provide additional information to her.

What in Wednesday's ruling were not clear victories for UC? The following summarizes those points:

The judge's ruling did not address the injunction that is in place prohibiting the start of construction on the student-athlete center.
On June 19, the day after the ruling was issued, Judge Miller clarified that the injunction remains in place. UC had assumed that the injunction would not be lifted until all information requested in the judge's ruling is filed.

UC was asked to put a dollar value on Memorial Stadium as it exists today, and on three elements shown in early design drawings for construction of the student-athlete center — a grade beam, demolition of a stairway, and a conduit for utilities — that the judge ruled would be alterations to the stadium. Under Alquist-Priolo, alterations to an existing structure on a fault cannot exceed 50 percent of the value of the structure.
The stairway demolition and conduit are no longer part of the student-athlete center design. The value of the grade beam — a reinforced concrete beam to support the west wall of the stadium during construction of the student-athlete center — has been estimated at $500,000-600,000 by the university. UC's estimate of the total value of the stadium, stated in the record, is $593 million. Adding the value of the beam to the cost of other proposed stadium improvements, the university says the stadium project will easily remain below the required 50 percent cap. This information will be reviewed and delivered to the judge this week.

The judge ruled that more evidence is required to support the university's determination that noise, traffic, and seismic safety impacts are unavoidable during non-football events that would be held at the stadium in the future.
These issues are not related to the student-athlete center, but to the proposed later phase of the stadium project, still in the planning stage and not yet approved by the UC Board of Regents. UC does not agree with the court's decision on this issue and is considering its response.

The court ruled that UC projects are subject to Alquist-Priolo laws.
In many aspects of land use, UC property is not subject to state and local regulations. While the student-athlete center has, from the beginning, been designed to comply with the Alquist-Priolo earthquake zoning law, UC attorneys had proposed to the court that the law may not apply to the use of UC land. Judge Miller ruled that Alquist-Priolo does apply to UC.

Olson said Wednesday that the university "will quickly respond to the court" on the technical issues remaining. The ruling asks for all additional filings to be submitted by June 27.