Only in Berkeley, folks. Only in Berkeley.
You may have heard about the tree sitters on the Cal campus’ Oak Grove area, near Memorial Stadium. They’ve been there for well over half a year, protesting a plan to tear down the old trees.
This wouldn’t be anything more than your usual fodder for Berkeley hippie jokes except for the fact that administrators would like to tear down those 42 oak trees to build a new athletic complex (which is in coach Jeff Tedford’s contract, I believe), and now a fence is being built in preparation for the arrival of fans for this weekend’s showdown with Tennessee (76K are expected.) The problem is that this fence might just violate a restraining order:
It’s not clear if the barrier being put up today violates a temporary restraining order issued by an Alameda County Superior Court judge barring any construction on the site pending a hearing on a permanent ban scheduled to be heard in Superior Court in Hayward, beginning Sept. 19.
The court will decide three lawsuits surrounding destruction of the trees and construction of the sports complex.
The lawsuits include one from the city of Berkeley challenging the size and location of the facility.
The city’s suit was consolidated with those of two other groups, the California Oak Foundation, vying to save 42 mature oak trees at the site, and the Panoramic Hill Association, a neighborhood group concerned about traffic and other issues. A fourth group trying to save so-called Tightwad Hill, a grassy area behind Memorial Stadium where football games can watched for free, will be considered separately.
Frankly, it’s probably in everyone’s best interest that the fence go up for now — I fear what would happen if one of the tree dwellers tried to get in the face of a Vol fan who made the trip out West. It could never be as ugly as a OU fan tearing a Texas fan’s scrotum, but there are SEC fans who could pick their teeth with your generic West Coast activist type.
Photo: Nader Khouri/Contra Costa Times