The disputed UC Berkeley land next to Albany’s Gill Tract is in contention no more. Last week, the California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the university to build a senior housing development and Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store on San Pablo Avenue in University Village.
The development, on a long-vacant lot next to the Gill Tract research field, has been the site of protests since April 2012 on the part of Occupy the Farm, which has stated that UC Berkeley’s plans would “pave over a rare natural resource” and that the Gill Tract is “public farmland that belongs to the people.”
Stefanie Rawlings, of Occupy the Farm, originally filed a lawsuit against the city of Albany and UC Berkeley that alleged that the city’s approved Environmental Impact Report was deficient. When Rawlings lost the suit, she filed an appeal on the grounds that the report did not lay out appropriate alternatives for the building plan, and that the city did not appropriately consider the alternatives listed.
In a statement, Occupy participant Vanessa Raditz, a public-health student at UC Berkeley, said the city’s “failure to explore alternatives is a severe public health threat to the community. This area has long been known for its dangerous air pollution from the 580 and 80 freeways and the Pacific Steel Casting factory, which has led to high levels of asthma in the community. The EIR highlights that the proposed development would be bringing in 6,500 new cars per day on Monroe Street, right next to the village daycare center, the little league fields, and Oceanview Elementary School. The EIR even states clearly that these traffic impacts cannot be mitigated. The only solution is a smaller project or none at all.”
The courts disagreed and rejected the appeal June 16.