New concept drawings hint at vision for People’s Park

New conceptual drawings hint at what the residence hall, supportive housing apartments, historical memorial and public park space proposed for the People’s Park site might look like.

Last week, the campus announced plans to redevelop and revitalize the 2.8-acre park, with a 700-1000 bed residence hall, as many as 125 apartments of supportive housing for the homeless, green space and a physical memorial that honors the history of the park.

Chancellor Carol Christ said UC Berkeley’s housing shortage necessitated redeveloping the park. Christ has pledged to add 7,500 new beds to campus housing over the next 10 years at sites like People’s Park, the Oxford Tract and Albany Village

“I think housing is the most urgent need we have,” Christ said. “I think it’s a crisis of such proportion that if we do not address it it will ultimately compromise the excellence of the campus because it will be harder for us to recruit graduate students and undergraduates.”

UC Berkeley currently provides close to 8,700 beds for some 42,000 graduate and undergraduate students, the lowest percentage in the University of California system.

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Christ said she hoped revitalizing the park would create a better space for students, Berkeley residents and the homeless, who need supportive housing. The city of Berkeley currently has approximately 30 beds available in existing permanent supportive housing for the city’s estimated 800 homeless residents.

“I think the university needs to be a partner with the city in addressing the situation, addressing the problem of homelessness and alleviating the kinds of challenges that that the homeless face,” Christ said.

Christ said the space would also include monuments to the history of the park, which has been a part of Berkeley’s history since the university first proposed building student housing there in the late 1960s. One idea is a historical walk on the sidewalk, she said.

“It seems to me is really important to memorialize the history in a way that will be moving to people,” she said.

A detailed schedule for next steps in the planning process, with ample opportunities for community engagement, is now being finalized. Construction is expected to begin in 2020.