Sunday, June 28, 2020

Too Much Crowding?

No social distancing?
Berkeley group can sue UC over increased enrollment at Berkeley campus

San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko, 6-26-20

A Berkeley neighborhood group can sue the University of California for allegedly failing to protect local residents or consider the impacts of an enrollment increase of more than 8,000 students since 2005, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The suit by Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods had been dismissed last year by an Alameda County judge, who said enrollment increases were not a “project” that required environmental review under state law, and that the organization had waited too long to file the case. The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco disagreed on both points and reinstated the suit.

“The Legislature has recognized that both enrollment levels and physical development are related features of campus growth that must be mitigated” under environmental law, Justice Gordon Burns said in the 3-0 ruling. The law, signed by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970, requires state and local agencies that approve development projects to report on any harm they may cause to the environment and propose measures measures to avoid or reduce the harm. Burns said the law does not limit enrollment but simply requires public universities to “mitigate the impacts of their growth and development.” ...

Full story at

Note 1: There is some irony in this decision which comes when campuses are devoid of students and in a period in which - even with a reopening - the number on campuses is likely to be well below normal.

Note 2: If the Berkeley group ultimately succeeds, similar lawsuits might be filed at other UC campuses.

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