The Public’s Radio, “Plan for iconic California park pits housing against history”

At Atmaa Das, 28, who is homeless from Alabama, strums his guitar while singing parts of Woody Guthrie's anthem, "This Land Is Your Land" while sitting in a piece of construction equipment left behind at People's Park in Berkeley, Calif., on Aug. 16, 2022. The three-acre site's colorful history, forged from University of California, Berkeley's seizure of the land in 1968, has been thrust back into the spotlight by the school's renewed effort to pave over People's Park as part of a $312 million project that includes sorely needed housing for about 1,000 students. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

By Michael Liedtke, August 25, 2022

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Berkeley, an eclectic California city renowned for tie-dyed hippies and high-brow intellectuals, is experiencing a 1960s flashback triggered by People’s Park, a landmark that has served as a counterculture touchstone, political stepping stone and refuge for homeless people.

The 3-acre (1.2-hectare) site’s colorful history, forged from the University of California, Berkeley’s seizure of the land in 1968, has been thrust back into the spotlight as the school renews efforts to pave over People’s Park, this time for a $312 million project that includes sorely needed housing for about 1,000 students.

After a judge sided with the university in a legal scrum over the project, construction finally began Aug. 3 only to abruptly stop a few hours later after a swarm of defiant protesters, who had been sparring with police, toppled fences surrounding the park.

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