UC Berkeley has just hired a $92,000-a-year social worker — not to help students, but to deal with the intractable homeless problem at People’s Park.
The block-long park just off Telegraph Avenue was born out of the radical politics of the late 1960s antiwar movement. The university acquired it by eminent domain and cleared it for future development, but after the upheavals of those times, it became untouchable ground.
These days, however, the 2.8-acre plot of land is better known for its vagrants and violence than its politics, and locals avoid it.
Newly promoted Chancellor Carol Christ, under pressure to deal with a campus housing shortage, has embraced a task force recommendation to explore building on several university-owned sites that include People’s Park.
She’s running into resistance from activists who promise a fight to preserve the park’s counterculture legacy.