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Newsom blames 'selfish' environmentalists for 'driving up housing prices,' making California 'less affordable' after sparring over proposed housing project
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Newsom blames 'selfish' environmentalists for 'driving up housing prices,' making California 'less affordable' after sparring over proposed housing project

Democrat California Governor Gavin Newsom sparred with progressive activists over the weekend after the state appeals court halted a proposed housing project due to environmental concerns. In response to the opposition, Newsom blamed the environmentalists for "driving up housing prices" and making California "less affordable."

The proposed plan seeks to build housing in People's Park, which has operated as a free public park since the 1970s, even though the University of California, Berkeley, owns the land. If approved, the project would create housing for 1,100 students and more than 100 homeless people.

Last week, the First District Court of Appeal blocked construction of the project, ruling that the university failed to explore other sites and "assess potential noise impacts from loud student parties in residential neighborhoods near the campus," as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

Many student activists rallied against the plan and called for People's Park to remain a public green space.

Berkeleyside reported that student activists want the site "to be returned to indigenous stewardship, homeless residents who lived at the park to be connected to permanent housing, and to defund the UC Police Department and have those financial resources redirected to services for homeless residents, as well as Cal students and staff."

In addition to the student opposition, local organizations Make UC a Good Neighbor and the People's Park Historic District Advocacy Group filed a lawsuit against the university's proposed plan. The complaint cited the CEQA law and stated that the environmental impact of the project, particularly noise concerns, had not been adequately considered.

On Saturday, Newsom called the activists "selfish" and "a few wealthy Berkeley homeowners." The governor accused them of being "NIMBYs," or "not in my backyard," a phrase used to describe residents who oppose developments in their area.

"Our CEQA process is clearly broken when a few wealthy Berkeley homeowners can block desperately needed student housing for years and even decades," Newsom stated.

The governor then blamed the activists for the state's increased cost of living.

"California cannot afford to held hostage by NIMBYs who weaponize CEQA to block student and affordable housing," he continued. "This selfish mindset is driving up housing prices and making our state less affordable."

Newsom noted that he plans to work with state lawmakers to change legislation "so our state can build the housing we desperately need."

Democrat Senator Scott Wiener called the court's ruling "horrific" because it "introduces the idea that people are pollution." Wiener noted that he plans to introduce new legislation in the upcoming weeks.

UC Berkeley stated it was "dismayed" by the court's decision to halt the housing project and plans to appeal.

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