UC Letter to Occupiers: 'Time is Running Out'

University of California reps are scheduled to meet with members of Occupy the Farm in a private session Thursday night. Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we publish future stories on this topic.

University officials released, on Wednesday night, a second open letter addressed to a group of urban farming activists who took over a private parcel of UC-owned agricultural research land in Albany on Earth Day.

University of California at Berkeley representatives will speak with members of Occupy the Farm in a private meeting at an undisclosed location Thursday night. Attorneys for both groups will be in attendance.

"We're taking it one step at a time," said UC spokesman Dan Mogulof. "I think after the discussions tomorrow, everyone's going to have a better sense of not only where we are but where we can get to, and how we can get there."

Mogulof, executive director of the university's Office of Public Relations, said senior administrators from departments that are involved with various aspects of the issue will be in attendance.

In the university's letter, signed by George Breslauer, executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, and Vice Chancellor John Wilton, the writers describe the main goals of the meeting. (The letter is attached to the right as a PDF.)

First: "The encampment must end. We cannot accept anything that will impede the ongoing and important work of our students and faculty."

They write that they are also "deeply concerned by the challenges arising from dozens of people living on an agricultural tract adjacent to an elementary school and residential areas."

Mogulof said Wednesday night that the university has received at least 30 letters or other communications from people about the occupation of the land.

"The overwhelming majority," he said, "have expressed frustration with the status quo and are urging us, or demanding, that we take action to end the encampment."

He acknowledged that some of the communications received by the university have expressed support for the activities. 

In their letter, Breslauer and Wilton write that, though they hope to "avoid confrontation or the utilization of coercive means," that "time is running out. By the middle of May must begin field preparation and planting."

The letter also notes the possibility of sharing the field, for the current growing season, between the researchers who generally work there and the activists. They write that the university could consider even more urban farming possibilities in the future if an agreement can be reached.

"If the encampment is ended we are, , more than willing to discuss opportunities for a metropolitan agriculture program affiliated with the campus," they write.

The officials also write that "the only proposal for the future of the Gill Tract---if and when we cease agricultural research on the parcel---envisions not commercial development, but open space, recreational space and community space; an idea that was the result many years of community engagement. Yet, here too, we have been consistently saying that the university is open to further discussions with the community about implementation of the Master Plan on this portion of the property. However, meaningful engagement must be inclusive of diverse perspectives, cannot be held under duress or threat and must be conducted through existing venues in Albany that have been established for this very purpose."

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we publish future stories on this topic. Read more on Albany Patch about the Gill Tract occupation.

If there's something in this article you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

Carissa Sun May 04, 2012 at 03:18 AM
And this is pertinent to the above conversation how exactly?? I understand that there are some serious public trust issues with the UC, but are you really saying that Birgeneau & Breslauer's salaries are why there's some delusional kids planting lettuce on the Gill Tract? Please excuse my tone, but I am just. so. tired. of this whole shtik. Leave already.
Dover May 04, 2012 at 03:35 AM
"Most events are held in the evenings. From schools to city councils." Yes, and for such worthy/worthwhile events I would be (and have been) inclined to rearrange my work schedule. But for an obvious indoctrination session held by someone who is gleeful about breaking the law and informed us in advance that our commentary would not be welcome? No.
Alan Riffer May 04, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Colleen and Robert, The Albany Chamber of Commerce supports the Mixed Use Development including Whole Foods. Their statement at the July 18, 2011 City Council study session: "The Albany Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, after due consideration and polling the membership, voted to support this project for the following reasons: It brings several acres onto the property tax rolls, which will mean increased revenues to the City; It will create over 300 permanent jobs; Sales tax revenues will increase; It will revitalize our southern gateway on San Pablo Avenue, giving a much-needed boost to existing independent businesses and stimulating additional business investment; Our seniors can age in place in our community; and The proposal connects UC Village to the greater Albany community. " Not unanimously supported by Chamber members, but strongly supported.
Lisa Schneider May 04, 2012 at 07:31 AM
No one, not even Master-Gardeners-of-the-Universe, get to to dictate HOW people participate in conversations around the Gill Tract. There's no one-size-fits-all medium of expression. In order to make our voices count, surely we don't have to show up in person at "educational" meetings (or dialogues?) where we must play student while others play teacher? I hope that's not what you meant.
Kama March 21, 2013 at 06:54 AM
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