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Related Categories: East Bay | Education & Student Activism
People's Park Needs to Serve Students
by Craig Louis Stehr (craiglouisstehr [at] gmail.com)
Friday Aug 3rd, 2018 4:19 AM
The Berkeley community needs to face reality, which is that People's Park has lived out its present incarnation, and a new life benefitting the students who actually have a need to be there is now primary.
Having been involved with People's Park beginning in the summer of 1972, I have weathered a lot of its history. From the utopian beginnings when music and poetry prevailed and people really liked one another, through the unfortunate 80s when some nasty drug related problems first appeared, to the rise and fall of East Bay Food Not Bombs in the 90s, to the current situation of cluelessness and postmodern survival. At this point, the park needs to serve the students who actually have a serious reason to be in the area. Student housing is the only rational recommendation for the park's future. With all due respect to everyone, it is time to let go of People's Park and allow it to freely be what it needs to be. A refuge for stoners, or a site for low income housing, or some general fantasy invented to somehow satisfy an essentially unrelated list of complex social concerns is NOT what People's Park needs to be. People's Park needs to be a resource serving the UC students first and foremost. If anybody laments the decline of the park over the past decades, the blame is on the people who failed there. It's that simple. Thanks for listening.
In New York City, Washington Square Park is a good example of a city park which serves both students and residents, including homeless and stoners. As in Peoples Park, chess is played there, for money, and many chess-players are stoners. City police patrol the entire area, which is a destination for thousands of tourists daily.

In contrast to Peoples Park in Berkeley, Washington Square Park in New York City is a safe and fun place for average people to be, to enjoy the ambience of a great urban area.

It's too bad Peoples Park can't be more like Washington Square Park !!
by Rebuttle
Friday Aug 3rd, 2018 8:02 PM
Looking at his blog, CLS had moved to be a resident of the East Coast, and recently took a vacation in Hawaii. He isn't a Berkeley resident anymore.

It is classist to say that only UC students have any reason to be in the area. And what are the boundaries of "the area"? Should non students not even be allowed to be near the campus?

The blame isn't on the People who "failed". The blame is on the UC police who harassed activists who tried to get involved in the vital upkeep of the park, resulting in eco-minded activists fearing for their physical safety and mental wellbeing. The blame in on the UC which had a policy of telling students not to get involved in People's Park, and threatened professors if they allied with park activists.

The UC has had a policy of undermining People's Park so naysayers can point to it as a failure, and declare that we should give up on it. The UC sabotaged community efforts so they could make the argument it has to be paved over and become the location of a dorm. The UC will stop playing this twisted game if People's Park can be guaranteed perpetuity, and granted historical status.

Student housing can be built by replacing Anna Head Alumni Hall with a new building.