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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Environment & Forest Defense | Police State and Prisons
UC and Qualcomm Make First Cuts To Redwood Grove, Police Enfence Trees
Today (April 6th), UC Berkeley cut down the support foliage, including oaks, at the redwood grove behind Soda Hall. As well, the larger redwoods have been severely pruned and smaller redwoods have been removed entirely. Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm wants the lot for a $20,000,000 privatized tech design institute, named after himself. The UC and Paul Jacobs have been ignoring overwhelming public demand to save the trees. Furthermore, by cutting down a protected species, the design institute goes against its own founding principals, expressed by Paul Jacobs, that that project minimize any negative impact to the environment.
WAVE OF ACTION PROTEST - APRIL 12th, 10AM
Ridge Road and Le Roy Avenue, Berkeley
Defend trees in Berkeley
The ground breaking ceremony for the Paul Jacobs Design Institute is on Cal Day, April 12th at 10AM behind Soda Hall. There will be a public event, with Paul Jacobs and Nick Dirks ceremoniously scooping the first shovels of dirt from the lot. Rather than hold the event in the full grove, the UC has removed the support foliage, many of the smaller trees, and severely pruned the taller redwoods. The UC police cordoned off the the grove and the volleyball court behind Soda Hall with police tape, and have subsequently placed a metal fence around the area. Nobody is allowed into the public space behind Soda Hall. The UC police have also place their barricades in such a way that obstructs the city sidewalk.
Members of the UC and residents have been attempting to preserve the trees through legal channels, an email campaign and civil disobedience. The UC does not have the legal right to cut down the redwoods, as the legal process has not yet been completed. Cutting redwoods in California requires legal process, even for an public institution like the UC. The UC damaged the redwood grove illegally.
The UC police are claiming that tree-sitter protesters were going to damage the trees by living in them. But the UC's damaged the trees by cutting them purposefully, and furthermore, the UC intends to cut down all the trees in the grove. The UC spokesperson Dianne Klein has been preparing a statement for the university also claiming that the trees sitter were attempting to damage trees, while the UC was attempting to save the trees from the protesters. There is no logic to the claim by Dianne Klein and the UC police, as the UC is trying to cut down the grove against the wishes of the public, and have now damaged the grove.
2. UC QUALCOMM
Paul Jacobs is the former CEO of Qualcomm, and the current executive director. Jacobs is a UC Berkeley alum. Qualcomm has representation in the UC regents by Sherry Lansing who is both a UC Regent and a member of the board at Qualcomm. When Lansing joined the Qualcomm board, the regents invested $$397 million into Qualcomm. Another tie exists between the regents and Qualcomm, as UC Regent Norman Pattiz and Michael Finley of Qualcomm are both on the Region 1 Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Paul Jacobs and the UC are pushing for a building that has little public support, even amongst professors and students. There exists a perfect location for the design institute at the Campbell Hall staging area, a construction staging site that will be unused when Campbell Hall is finished this year. The staging area for Campbell Hall is equal in size to the space behind Soda Hall, and placement of the institute there would not require controversial removal of redwoods.
By insisting on using a lot occupied by redwoods, the Paul Jacobs Design Institute goes against its own founding principals. In a 2013 interview regarding the project, Jacobs said: "I strongly believe in being a positive and creative force in the protection and enhancement of the local and global environment. This includes supporting a need to... minimize any negative impact to the environment." Jacobs also in the interview he is not one to lead through a "top down strategic plan", and that people should question assumptions, yet Jacobs is refusing to enter public meetings regarding to find another place to put the proposed building.
The $20,000,000 building is part of the 2020 Long Range Development Plan at UC Berkeley, which will drastically reduce the open space on campus in exchange for privatized research facilities. The University of California's patent policy gives ownership of innovations developed on UC campus to the UC. In its patent policy, the UC believes there exists "an obligation to assign to UC rights to inventions and patents that are conceived or developed while employed by the University or while using any University research facilities or any gift, grant, or contract research funds received through the University". When corporations enter joint ventures with the UC, deals can be made between the university and corporate partners for patent rights. Paul Jacobs is a supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact that would strengthen patent control by the larger multi-national corporations. Qualcomm would benefit strongly in using research at a public university for private gain. And as the university moves further privatization, the university is aligning itself with members of the Business Coalition for TPP. The university is attempting to go global, starting with an engineering center in China, and the UC wants to be aligned with a TPP coalition member like Qualcomm who already has a presence in the Chinese market. Although, Qualcomm's stance in China is in flux due to an anti-trust violation; Qualcomm has been accused of price fixing by China's National Development and Reform Commission.
Qualcomm has not just been influencing the UC, but has been trying to shape California politics. In 2013, Qualcomm supported candidate Nathan Fletcher for the San Diego 2013/14 mayoral special election. Fletcher, a Democrat, received a $400,000 salary from Qualcomm, but reporters discovered Fletcher wasn't doing any work at Qualcomm. Fletcher's position as a senior director appeared to be fake, as Qualcomm's own records showed Fletcher wasn't filing reports and wasn't even logging into his work computer. Pretending Fletcher was senior director who earned a salary, Qualcomm gave the Democrat $400,000 circumventing campaign finance regulations. It is believed that Paul Jacobs is now trying to influence the Berkeley 2014 city council elections, and has made donations to Berkeley incumbents in exchange for supporting the design institute. The city of Berkeley had issued a statement via the city's spokesperson that redwood trees behind Soda Hall block the city sidewalk and should be removed. The city's statement is false; the trees do not impede the sidewalk. The city normally does not get involved with development on campus, and thus is believed that city politicians issued the statement as a favor for Jacobs in change for political donations for the election. The city of Berkeley has even been allowing the UC to place their metal fence on the city sidewalk, shortening the width of accessible sidewalk, rather than insisting the fence be on the UC property line.
Redwood trees are a protected species, as the redwood belt falls in a limited range. The decline of redwoods along the coast due to development cannot be replaced in central California. There is much need to restore the redwood belt, as only 4% of the old growth forest is still around. Many developers, including the UC, will use 20th century maps showing no redwoods in Berkeley, as an attempt to support the notion that redwoods are foreign to this part of California. However maps from the late 1800s show that redwoods were in Berkeley, and they were logged up to 1881. The UC is the largest holder of redwood trees in Berkeley, but the redwood groves on campus are threatened by the 2020 Long Range Development Plan. The city of Berkeley itself has no intention of creating any new park space by 2020, and has no method of replacing redwoods cut down on the UC property. The trees on campus are not old growth, but they are old enough to be substantially large. The redwood belt is part of California's heritage and should be maintained, even in urban environments.
3. OPEN SPACE
The trees capture carbon, provide shade, filter air pollution, provide homes for birds and so forth with all the things trees do. Those inside Soda Hall, such as those looking out the windows of the Steve Wozniak Lounge, enjoy a view filled with trees and not another building. And the residents, both student and non-student, living near Soda Hall like looking at the trees, and not being faced with a building, especially since the UC has a tendency to leave lights on at night. Even famed economist Robert Reich feels the trees should not be cut; he passes the trees to and from the Goldman School of Public Policy.
The volleyball court was requested during the planning of Soda Hall. The court is there because volleyball is a favored sport of computer science students. The volleyball court is a rare type of space on campus; there is not much sand at the university. The UC has no intentions of replacing the court. And at this time, the city of Berkeley has no plans to build a court as a replacement. The volleyball court does get heavy use. But at this time, the court is behind a police fence, and not available to the public, not even students. The grove and the court is being guarded by police all day and all night.
Piles of tree limbs, dead oaks, and other removed support-foliage, April 6th. Cut for Paul Jacobs Design Institute.
Ridge Redwoods @RidgeRedwoods
#UC #Berkeley removed all the #redwoods behind Soda Hall, despite assurances some would stay. https://pic.twitter.com/AQhjvubQK7
1:31 PM - 23 Apr 2014