UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent an open letter to the Richmond community on Friday reiterating a promise to sign agreements ensuring local residents benefit from the construction of the Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay.
Dirks also criticized an ongoing effort by a group of labor activists, residents and Berkeley students who have been vocally demanding a community benefits agreement with certain conditions over the planned research facility, which will be located at the Richmond Field Station. Activists warn that if their proposed version of the community agreement isn’t signed, low-income residents will lose out on jobs and end up displaced by the new campus, as the development will likely increase the area’s cost of living.
In his letter, Dirks adamantly disputed the activists’ claims, saying those leading the protest are trying to “circumvent” a working group of community representatives that still meets regularly in order to hash out agreements that will provide financial investment locally, along with jobs, workforce training and education opportunities.
The 21-member working group includes 14 representatives from Richmond and West County, including Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay and representatives of local businesses, the school district and labor representatives. It holds public meetings on the fourth Thursday of every month at 6 p.m.
“The demand that we bypass a deliberative and inclusive process is unfortunate and irresponsible,” Dirks said in the letter. “We wish instead to take the full measures of the needs and interests of many, not just a few.”
The letter, which is posted in full below, also reiterates certain commitments made a year ago by UC, including the development of a community fund benefiting local residents, the hiring of local union workers and local workforce training. Dirks also said UC is awaiting to from the community on plans to address the Global Berkeley Campus’ potential impact on affordable housing in West County.