A state appeals court judge has tentatively blocked University of California at Berkeley from building housing on People’s Park, according to the judge’s ruling last month.

In California’s First District Court of Appeals, Judge Teri Jackson sent the case back to Alameda County Superior Court, telling the university’s regents to set aside its certification of the environmental impact report for the $312 million project.

Jackson said the report “inadequately analyzed potential alternatives to” the project “and impacts from noise and displacement.”

“Why are they fooling around?” said Harvey Smith, representing the community groups opposed to the university’s plans for housing at People’s Park.

When the university picks a site like People’s Park, “it just delays things,” Smith said.

Smith thinks the university knew opposition would mount against its plan.

UC Berkeley declined to comment following the ruling. Spokesperson Dan Mogulof said the university will wait to comment until after the final judgment.

The community groups consist of Make UC a Good Neighbor and The People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group. Smith said the supporters of the two groups’ efforts come from all over Berkeley.

“For many reasons, the park should be preserved,” Smith said.

One reason is it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Smith said in addition, the area south of the university is becoming denser, so the area needs park space.

He said the housing project should be built where a parking structure now sits at Channing Way and Ellsworth Street. The parking structure is seismically unsafe, Smith said.

Smith and others opposed to housing on People’s Park are not a group of NIMBYs, Smith said, citing a common abbreviation for Not in My Backyard.

“We’re totally in favor of more student housing,” he said, adding that the university has known for many years that it needs more housing.

The community groups just don’t think People’s Park is where it should go.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Jan. 12 at 9 a.m.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.