Legislature passes reprieve for UC Berkeley’s enrollment cap

By Maria Dinzeo, Courthouse News Service, March 14, 2022

“Rushing to override a student enrollment freeze imposed by an Alameda County Superior Court judge last year, state lawmakers in both legislative houses voted [on March 14] to change an environmental review law that has thwarted a planned expansion and jeopardized the admission of some 5,000 applicants to the University of California, Berkeley, this fall.

“Phil Bokovoy, president of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods [which brought the lawsuit against UC Berkeley] said Monday during a public comment session in the Assembly, that unfettered growth has driven up rents and displaced local residents.

“The Legislature’s CEQA amendment, in the form of a budget trailer bill, will allow UC Berkeley to admit the number of students previously planned while nullifying [the Superior Court judge’s] injunction. While it preserves the requirement that California universities do a long-range development plan under CEQA, it now specifies that changes in student enrollment by itself will not trigger environmental review under CEQA.

“It also gives universities 18 months to remedy any environmental concerns when a judge finds a campus population has risen above projections.

“While lawmakers blamed the lawsuit and subsequent ruling for the Berkeley enrollment fiasco, others said the UC system is admitting too many students while failing to address the attendant housing crisis.

“Governor Gavin Newsom signed the trailer bill into law, praising the legislature’s quick action.”

Read the full article here(~5 min.)

In a related article, Katie Lauer writes on March 21, 2022, that while the university’s enrollment cap was resolved for 2022, solutions to students’ housing struggles remain elusive: “Long commutes, multiple roommates, and friends’ couches: how UC Berkeley students live.” Read that article here.

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