I suspect most Berkeley residents don’t go to People’s Park very often, if at all. Even as one who grew up in Berkeley during ‘the sixties,’ I never set foot in the Park until I was a student at Cal in the late ’70’s. I suspect most people view People’s Park as a destination that they don’t find attractive. Sure, there is a reasonable collection of us who have given sweat and tears, and even blood, to maintain this land as a park, whether that be in the ’60’s as the park was created/reborn, or during the decades since, when the University attempted several times to fundamentally alter the use of the Park. But it is likely that the majority of folks in Berkeley have no strong connection to the Park.
So now, as its 50th anniversary approaches, I suspect that most folks in Berkeley see People’s Park as an ‘attractive nuisance’ at best, and perhaps a ‘dangerous eyesore’ at worst. So the current proposal—that includes 700-1,000 student beds, 75-110 ‘supportive housing’ beds, and ‘park/open space’ with “… an important element … design that will commemorate, honor and celebrate the history and the significance of People’s Park”—will likely be received by most folks as a step forward. I would like to offer, however, an alternative, long-term view of this proposal. Continue reading “Why building housing on Peoples’ Park is not, and will never be, a good idea.”