ALBANY -- The city had to cancel a planned meeting on Dec. 17 with a member of the public regarding the University of California's development project after opponents of the project tried to turn it into a protest.
"This item originated from an inquiry by a member of the public seeking information regarding the UC Village Mixed Use Project, primarily with regard to trees on the property," city clerk Nicole Almaguer wrote in an email. "There was an interest in seeing the trees on site, however, this was not intended to be a public gathering."
Almaguar added that as the property in question is owned by the university, the institution would need to approve any use, including a public gathering.
Occupy The Farm, a group of project opponents who broke into the property and planted crops multiple times over the past two years, learned about the meeting and created an event on Facebook called, "Deathrow Tree Tour at the Gill Tract Farm," inviting people to come see trees on the property that will be removed if the project is built.
"Over 100 trees are slated to be removed to make room for UC Berkeley's development of a Sprouts grocery store, parking lot and upscale senior center on this land," read the event description. "This is your chance to get behind the fences, enjoy these beautiful giants and others, and plan what can be done to save more of them."
The university has been working for years to try to develop the land at the intersection of San Pablo Avenue and Monroe Street, which for many years was the site of student dormitories originally built to house World War II defense workers.
Current plans are to build a Sprouts Farmers Market on one portion and a Belmont Village retirement home on another. Future plans are to have more retail stores as well.
The plans were approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Dec. 11. Opponents have until Dec. 30 to file an appeal to the City Council. As of Dec. 17, no appeal had been filed.