Campanile and sunset from the University Club at Memorial Stadium
The UC Berkeley Campanile as seen from the University Club at Cal’s Memorial Stadium. Photo: Daniel Parks

UC Berkeley released a proposed update to its 2020 Long Range Development Plan on Wednesday and there are some interesting tidbits in the report:

  • The plan, originally prepared in 2005, projected there would be 33,450 students at Cal by 2020. The revised supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR), however, projects there will be 44,735 students on campus by 2022-23, a 33.7% increase over original projections. This is largely due to the UC Regents’ 2015 decision to increase enrollment at all UC campuses, including Berkeley. Currently, there are 41,000 students on campus.
  • The number of employees on campus is decreasing. Cal had projected there would be 15,810 employees on campus by 2020. The number projected for 2022-23 is now 15,355. This reflects the university’s decision to reduce administrative “headcount” for budgetary reasons, said Kyle Gibson, the director of communication for UC Berkeley Capital Strategies. Currently, there are 14,682 employees on campus, including faculty and staff.
  • Factoring in visitors and vendors, there were about 57,637 people at the UC Berkeley campus daily in 2017-2018. The projected number for 2020 was 51,260. By 2022-2023, the number of daily visitors should be 62,090, according to the report.

Despite the increase in the number of people on campus, UC Berkeley has worked hard to improve energy efficiency in its buildings, to encourage people not to drive to the campus, to use less water and to recycle more. As a result, consumption in many of those areas has declined, according to the draft SEIR:

  • Water demand decreased by 21% from 2004 to 2106.
  • The campus produces 33% less solid waste than it used to. In 2004, it produced 6,049 tons. In 2016, it produced 4,062 tons of waste.
  • Wastewater discharge dropped 21% in that period.
  • Fuel used from campus cars and trucks is 25% lower than in 1990.
  • 35% of the vehicle fleet is hybrid or powered by alternative fuels.
  • Around 5,500 people or 12% of the campus population ride their bikes to campus each day. Breaking that down further, 21% of the faculty ride their bikes, 9% of the staff ride their bikes, 27% of the graduate students ride their bikes, and 7% of the undergraduates ride their bikes.

“The findings in the Supplemental EIR are great news and represent a win-win-win for the community, the campus and our students,” Steve Sutton, UC Berkeley vice chancellor for student affairs, told Berkeley News. “Due to effective sustainability policies, we have effectively mitigated the environmental impacts of a larger campus population while, at the same time, we have cleared the path to provide much-needed academic facilities and housing for Berkeley’s students.”

Report examines the impact of a new academic/housing complex

UC Berkeley hopes to break ground on a new academic building and housing units to the corner of Hearst Avenue and La Loma. Rendering: UC Berkeley/Solomon Cordwell Buenz/American Campus Communities

UC Berkeley is planning to build a new academic building and housing complex on the Upper Hearst Parking lot on Hearst Avenue and La Loma Avenue. Instead of doing a new EIR on the project, the university decided to examine its impacts by updating the 2020 Long Range Development Plan. The university also took the opportunity to update the plan with new enrollment figures and statistics about energy consumption.

Pending approval of the Regents in May, UC officials hope to start construction on the complex in September. The project will include a new four-story academic building on Hearst Avenue for the Goldman School of Public Policy, which will allow it to expand the number of master’s degree students from 35 to 100. The project will also include a 150-unit housing complex that can hold 225 people on the site of the existing garage. That building will range from 87-feet high on Hearst Avenue to 72-feet high on Ridge Road to 69-feet high on La Loma. The number of parking spots will go from 407 to 200. (The original plan called for the preservation of some of the 1970 parking structure; it will now be demolished).

The housing component of the projects sits outside the previously-established boundaries for student housing established in the 2020 LRDP. It will have a major aesthetic impact on the neighborhood, the report concludes, since a large modern complex will sit right next to three historic buildings that reflect the First Bay Tradition of the Arts and Crafts movement: the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house at 2607 Hearst Ave.,  Cloyne Court, and a house at 2627 Ridge Rd. (the former Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house).

Other interesting facts were revealed in that section of the report:

  • In the 2020 LRDP, UC Berkeley projected that it would build 2.2 million square feet of new development by 2020. So far the university has only constructed 43% of that or 955,160 square feet.
  • UC Berkeley had projected that it would construct 2,600 new beds for students. It has only built 1,119 new beds.

UC Berkeley will hold a public meeting with planners on March 12 at 6:30 at the Alumni House. The review period ends April. 8.

When UC Berkeley updated its plan in 2005, the city of Berkeley sued to force it to further study the impacts of the plan, particularly what an expansion of 2.2 million square feet of construction would do to the city. Berkeley and UC Berkeley settled the lawsuit and the university agreed to triple the amount it paid for city services such as fire protection and sewer use from $500,000 a year to $1.2 million a year, adjusted 3% annually for inflation.

As part of that, the university agreed to put money each year into the Chancellor’s Partnership Fund for projects that improve the quality of life in Berkeley, according to a document released by UC. In 2018-19, that fund gave out $285,000 in grants. By 2020, that number should be $300,000, said Mogulof.

In 2018/2019, the university paid Berkeley $1,770,698, according to Dan Mogulof, assistant vice-chancellor of executive communications. That included payments from the Chancellor’s Fund.

UC Berkeley also makes payments to the city through:

  • A program director who spends 20% of his or her time to working with the city’s Office of Neighborhood Services, the dean of students, the LEAD Center, IFC/Panhellenic, ASUC, and others to encourage students in dorms and fraternities to adopt good neighbor practices when hosting parties.
  • $30,000 paid each year to Berkeley’s Public Works Department for picking up bulky items on the south side during student move-in and move-out.
  • $30,000 to $50,000 each year to support the 2020 Vision, a collaborative effort to improve academic outcomes for African American, Latino, and other vulnerable student populations who attend public schools in Berkeley.
  • Inter-Collegiate Athletics contracts with the Berkeley to provide: police services, emergency response (Berkeley Fire and Oakland Fire), parking enforcement, special event signage, and special trash pick up for neighbors and business that are adjacent to the stadium.  Last year, thte IA budgeted $302, 600 to pay for these city services.
  • An annual payment for street lights and water services. In FY 2019, the fee is estimated to be approximately $281,000.
  • UC Berkeley also makes annual contributions to two property-based improvement districts, the Downtown Business Association (DBA) and the Telegraph BID. Those groups clean the streets and beautify the neighborhoods that abut the campus and which visitors must traverse. “These payments are not made to the city but they are significant contributions to improve the cleanliness and quality of life for residents and businesses in the districts,” the UC document read.  In 2018, UC paid $72, 237 to the Telegraph Avenue BID; the dues will be $113, 640 in 2019.  The fees for the DBA are very similar.

In 2005, then-City Manager Phil Karmlarz said UC Berkeley cost the city about $9 million to $11 million annually and that amount would increase by $2 million by 2020, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

A group called Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods told the university in August that it should be doing two EIRs, one for the Upper Hearst project and one on the increase in enrollment. The group has filed suit against the university, contending that the increased enrollment has increased the use of off-campus housing; displaced tenants in Berkeley thereby resulting in more homelessness on city streets; impacted Berkeley’s rental housing market since there are not enough places for students to live; increased off-campus noise and trash, increased traffic and congestion, and increased the burden on Berkeley of providing more police and fire services.

The SEIR said that increasing number of students has not impacted fire and police services.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...