UC regents to vote Wednesday on Upper Hearst project in Berkeley

Upper Hearst Development: Residential and parking at Hearst and La Loma avenues. Image: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

The Regents of the University of California are scheduled to vote Wednesday on the Upper Hearst Development project to create campus housing, a parking garage and a new academic building for the Goldman School of Public Policy on the north side of UC Berkeley.

The vote is part of the board’s agenda for its May 14-16 meeting at the Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF. The board is slated to consider whether to approve the project design for Upper Hearst and certify its final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR).

According to the latest designs, from architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz, the project includes a five-story, 150-unit residential building over a three-story “mostly subterranean” parking structure, as well as a four-story academic building over one basement level. The project also includes “a Minor Amendment (#4) to UC Berkeley’s 2020 Long Range Development Plan to accommodate the proposed housing land use on the project site.”

The city of Berkeley has taken issue with campus population estimates included in the project documents and recently said it might sue the university if the two sides can’t find a way to see eye to eye.


According to UC Berkeley, faculty members will be the primary target audience for the residential units, which also will be available to visiting scholars and postdoctoral students if there is room. The bulk of the garage, 90 spaces, will be reserved for building residents.

Monday, the city sent a 29-page letter to the regents, calling the final SEIR “inadequate” and saying the document “does little to address the concerns raised in the City’s comments, especially concerns related to the Project’s impacts on City services.”

The city of Berkeley has said the university’s annual fiscal impact on the city “has increased from an estimated $11 million in 2003 to over $21 million in 2018.” In response to that claim, the city argues, “the University asserted simply that it is exempt from ‘local regulations and local taxes.’ But this assertion does nothing to undermine the City’s calculations. Moreover, it fails to address the significant environmental impacts associated with this new burden on public services, including the need for new facilities.”

The university says it paid the city of Berkeley $1,770,698 in 2018-19. Those payments are set to continue for at least two more years.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Berkeley Councilwoman Susan Wengraf are expected to address the regents during public comment Wednesday morning.

In early May, the university released new designs for the Upper Hearst Development. Some of them appear below.

Upper Hearst Development: The residential and parking building as seen from La Loma Avenue and Ridge Road. Image: Solomon Cordwell Buenz
Upper Hearst Development: The academic building on Hearst Avenue. Image: Solomon Cordwell Buenz
Upper Hearst Development: The academic building on Hearst Avenue. Image: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Note: The Upper Hearst Development is primarily aimed at faculty members, according to UC Berkeley. Berkeleyside corrected the story Tuesday night to reflect this.