The city of Berkeley and a neighborhood group have filed a lawsuit against the University of Berkeley for their uncontrolled enrollment growth.
Between the years of 2015 and 2018, the population at the university grew from 31,800 to 40,955 and by 2022, will increase by another 4,000 students.
However, in 2005, the university predicted that the student population would only increase about 5 percent through 2020. By 2018, the increase in the number of students actually rose close to 29 percent. The increased enrollment puts a $21 million strain on the city, and city officials want the university to pay its fair share for the increased costs.
The lawsuit doesn’t ask for any monetary demand. It instead requests for the university to analyze the effect the increased enrollment has on various services, such as police, fire and public transportation.
The lawsuit says the university tucked the enrollment increase into a report for the “Upper Hearst Project”, a proposal that includes a 150-unit dorm with parking and a four-story academic building. It claims that a report into the effect of the increased number of students, should have been separate under California’s Environmental Quality Act.
“What they’ve tried to do is bury their campuswide enrollment impact into a report about two buildings,” city spokesman Matthai Chakko said in an interview Thursday, adding that the city isn’t against the Upper Hearst Project itself.
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said university administration would be happy to figure out that numbers and negotiate a fair compensation to the city, but that Berkely decided to “proceed with costly litigation” instead, which will only delay the construction of “urgently needed student housing.”
Mogulf also addressed that the university makes a yearly payment of $1.8 million to the city to compensate for the strain its students put on city services. He said that the university is willing to increase its payments by 30 percent, but raising the payments by more than 1,000 percent would be “unprecedented.”.