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East Bay | Environment & Forest Defense

UC Berkeley moving forward to cut down redwood grove
by Save the Ridge Redwoods
Tuesday Mar 18th, 2014 6:22 AM
Even though there is overwhelming support for the redwood trees (at Ridge Road and Le Roy Avenue), UC Berkeley is still planning to cut down the grove for the Paul Jacobs Design Institute. Students, faculty/staff and Berkeley residents want the trees to stay, but the UC is ignoring the community.

The ground breaking ceremony for the design center is April 12th, Cal Day. It is believed the trees may be cut down beforehand, over Spring break, to clear the lot for the public ceremony.
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Redwood trees: Ridge Road and Le Roy Avenue, Berkeley
Trees might be cut over spring break: week of March 24th-28th
Ground breaking ceremony: Sat April 12th, 'Cal Day'

Faculty and students from Soda Hall, adjacent to the redwoods trees, have expressed support for the grove. Residents in the neighborhood and the Berkeley Architectural Historical Society have asked that the trees stay. However, the UC is ignoring a popular demand; the UC is still scheduled to remove the trees at Ridge Road and Le Roy Avenue.

The UC has been showing off preliminary sketches of the building on the university's engineering design website. The engineering design website does not show the final plan for the building. The early concepts show a few standing trees with the building. However the current plan, according to neighborhood advocates, leaves none of the original trees standing.

Even though the trees are healthy, the UC is claiming the trees are ill and need to be replaced anyway. A spokesperson from the city of Berkeley released a statement that the trees are impeding the pedestrian right of way, but the trees do not block the sidewalk.

There are also concerns on campus and in the surrounding community about the continuing privatization of the university system. Paul Jacobs, of Qualcomm, is paying the $20million cost of the building, which will have his name on it: The Paul Jacobs Design Center. Qualcomm has influence in the UC regents through Sherry Lansing, who is both a UC regent and Qualcomm board member. The corporation also has the Qualcomm Cafe on UC Berkeley campus.

An email campaign to save the trees has been ignored by UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. Requests for a public meeting regarding the trees and the proposed building have been ignored. There has been a large collective voice asking to save the redwood grove, but the UC plans to move forward without debate.

There are those who think that the cause can still yet be fought through civil disobedience, though time is of the essence.