The UC Berkeley Clark Kerr campus. Credit: Tracey Taylor

UC Berkeley will not build women’s beach volleyball courts at the Clark Kerr campus after a court sided with neighbors in a 2019 lawsuit.

Four neighborhood groups filed the lawsuit saying the planned courts would negatively impact the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhood. They also claimed the university was violating restrictions against its use of the neighborhood, dating back to when it acquired the property from the state in 1982.

Those covenants are in place until 2032 and, among other things, said Cal couldn’t build facilities for “major spectator events” and that only senior and affordable housing could be added. Cal is allowed to replace buildings that are destroyed, “are removed due to hazards, or determined to be infeasible to rehabilitate.”

Cal says it likely will not appeal Judge Frank Roesch’s ruling in Alameda County Superior Court, finalized on March 9. Roesch said the renovations plans — which included four sand courts, seating for 400 people, a 3,710-square-foot building with locker rooms and office space, lighting and a scoreboard — would amount to a venue for “major spectator events.”

UC Berkeley had initially pushed back on that claim, but campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said Friday that the university “respects and accepts the ruling” and will “very likely” not appeal the decision.

“There was a legitimate legal controversy regarding whether the new beach volleyball project would comply with the covenants,” Mogulof said. “The campus will find another site for the beach volleyball project and remains committed to gender equity for Cal Athletics.”

The neighborhood group’s population limit claims didn’t hold

While UC Berkeley maintained throughout the lawsuit that its volleyball courts didn’t violate the covenants, it tried to argue that some of the covenants were outdated and should be removed.

Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association (CENA), Panoramic Hill Association, and the Dwight Hillside Neighborhood Association, in a cross-complaint to the university, argued that the university was already exceeding population limits in the neighborhood.

The original covenants limited the number of beds on the campus to 843. Phil Bokovoy, president of Save Berkeley Neighborhoods, who is involved in other lawsuits over the university’s expansion in Berkeley, said previously that there are about 1,000 people currently living there.

Judge Roesch said the statute of limitations had expired on that counterclaim, and the plaintiffs were already aware of that information well before 2019. He also said UC Berkeley relies on those beds to meet student housing goals.

The rulings point “out to us the importance of initiating legal action against UCB in a more timely matter, rather than spending long periods of time attempting to come to a mutually agreeable solution,” CENA said in a March email to members.

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Supriya Yelimeli is a housing and homelessness reporter for Berkeleyside and joined the staff in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and...