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Judge Orders UC–Berkeley to Freeze Enrollment until ‘Environmental Impact’ Can Be Assessed

Judge Orders UC–Berkeley to Freeze Enrollment until ‘Environmental Impact’ Can Be Assessed

Now we have reached the stage in environmental activism in which students are deemed as potential pollutants.

In the annals of left vs. left battles, this is one of the most fascinating.

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has ordered the University of California, Berkeley to freeze enrollment at current levels until they can assess the impact of more students.

The highly unusual order more specifically directs the university to “suspend any further increases in student enrollment at UC Berkeley, in academic years 2022-2023 and later, above the level of student enrollment in academic year 2020-21” until the university comes into full compliance with the court’s requirements.

It also instructs UC Berkeley to void its decision to move ahead with a planned public-private development project, the Upper Hearst Project, intended to create new academic space as well as faculty, postdoctoral researcher and graduate student housing.

The Aug. 23 order comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, a local nonprofit group, and follows a July 9 ruling by Judge Brad Seligman concluding that an environmental impact analysis completed by the university was “legally insufficient in several respects,” including in relation to its analysis of the impacts of increased student enrollment.

Seligman wrote that Berkeley’s 2020 Long-Range Development Plan, certified in 2005, had projected that student enrollment would stabilize at around 33,450 students. Instead, he wrote, “it continued to increase and quickly exceeded those projections.”

Given the social justice activism rampant on campus, I am all for fewer students exposed to that extremely toxic environment. However, I am confident that is not the spirit in which this ruling was made.

Local citizen organizations are thrilled.

Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, the organization that filed the lawsuit, is a group of Berkeley residents who aim to “protect Berkeley’s unique quality of life,” according to its website. Phil Bokovoy, the group’s president, said the judge’s ruling is welcome news.

“We’re extremely pleased with the ruling,” Bokovoy said. “We’ve been litigating against the(UC Berkeley) for three years on the issue of enrollment increases. It will hopefully force (campus) into legally acknowledging their obligation to create housing for students that they add onto campus.”

The heart of the issue is compliance with regulations from the most dominant crushers of growth, prosperity, and freedom in California: The state’s many environmental agencies. The California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, mandates that all state agencies assess how specific projects impact the environment. After conducting an initial study, the agency must prepare the environmental impact report or EIR.

The staff and administrators usually embrace the stringent environmental rules on California campuses and the politicians who govern Berkeley. However, in this case, not so much.

Under California law, universities are periodically required to prepare a long-term development plan that includes enrollment forecasts and an environmental impact study. In 2005, UC–Berkeley produced one projecting that its headcount would stabilize at about 33,500 students. Instead, the school ended up enrolling more than 42,000 by 2020, with plans to admit more still in the years to come.

The university didn’t think that welcoming more students to campus required it to perform a whole new environmental review. But a state appeals court in San Francisco disagreed in 2020, ruling that increasing enrollment counted as a “project” that needed to be evaluated under the CEQA, just like building a stadium or dorm would be.

…Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín isn’t happy with the outcome. The city already settled its own lawsuit challenging the university’s expansion plans last year, after UC-Berkeley agreed to more than double what it pays each year for its students’ use of public services like fire, police, and public transit. The deal was also contingent on the university holding enrollment growth to 1 percent per year.

“Personally, I do not think the city should stand in the way of UC making progress in addressing our housing crisis and preventing future generations of students from getting a world-class education,” Arreguín said in a statement to Berkeleyside. (The lawsuit also halts a classroom-and-apartment complex.)

Now we have reached the stage in environmental activism in which students are deemed as potential pollutants.


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caseoftheblues | September 2, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Hmmm….now do it for all the illegals the gov of CA encourages to come on in…

Ever more useless government.

Have they ever done an environment impact study on all these judges?

The Friendly Grizzly | September 2, 2021 at 2:29 pm

Judge Orders Enrollment Freeze: Environmental Studies Majors Worst Hit

What goes around, comes around.

Berkeley U. sounds a whole lot like Cornell U. in that the ‘community’ lying within a 3 mile radius on East Hill in Ithaca surrounds Cornell Endowed and Statutory University. Those who own in a highly dense populated area are the very same people who at one time received their degree there and chose to stay or return to the fold. This is the “Cornell Community” which has rules for thee but not for me. Funny how the very things they advocate for others is coming home to roost.

Actually, a perfect use of the Alinsky Rules — Make the enemy live up to its book of rules. Why aren’t more people calling out the hypocrisy of the Left and making them live up to their own rules? While this wasn’t brought forth in that manner, it does provide an opportunity to start waging lawfare on the Left.

    henrybowman in reply to p1cunnin. | September 2, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    “Given the social justice activism rampant on campus, I am all for fewer students exposed to that extremely toxic environment. However, I am confident that is not the spirit in which this ruling was made.”

    “The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” — Sun Tzu

    A good general capitalizes on his enemy’s mistakes. We are under no mandate to give our enemies a time-out when they trip over their own feet.

    We depend on the left to eat themselves. If they want to eat their own recruits, our only job is to cater the condiments.

“”students are deemed as potential pollutants.””

If they’re not when they go in, they certainly are when they come out.

It is past time to wield the weapons of environmental law against our political opponents. They created, employed and refined these tactics. For example. What is the carrying capacity of CA? IOW how many people can the State sustain with it’s own resources; housing, energy (excluding vehicle fuel) and water?

Other states as well. Now what is each States plan if their population exceeds the carrying capacity? How many homes and apartments must be built? How much electricity generation needs to be added? How many desalination plants or reservoirs or community cisterns are needed?

    henrybowman in reply to CommoChief. | September 2, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    My tinfoil hat gently whispers to me that if you start down that path in ernest, you may arrive at some shocking truths about the real reason behind vaccine mandates.

      CommoChief in reply to henrybowman. | September 2, 2021 at 5:47 pm

      Disagree on your population aspect. Personally I’ve come to suspect that the vax mandate is about creating dependency upon availability of future vax.

Sadly, the students coming out of the likes of Berkley are toxic waste to freedom. Berkely should be forced to make containment measures.

OnTheLeftCoast | September 2, 2021 at 9:36 pm

Additional students increase the load on the sewer system, not to mention increasing traffic and worsening parking problems. The university has purchased many private buildings for various administrative purposes, removing them from the tax rolls. Also, while the university has its own police force, various events may require calling on the city police, ditto for the fire department.
The city has been complaining for years that the university doesn’t adequately pay for all the services it gets, so maybe the EIR is a convenient tactic for the city to use.
Just think of Berkeley as a company town.

Obviously using the same logic we need to freeze the Supreme Court at 9 members, because any more would cause global climate change.