By Richard Brenneman
With a tentative date for a hearing on an injunction to impose a freeze on UC Berkeley construction plans at Memorial Stadium set for Jan. 23, attorneys were negotiating Thursday to define terms for an interim agreement. Meanwhile, the tree-in protest by opponents of the university’s plans to fell a stand of native Coastal Live Oaks next to the stadium entered its 42nd day today (Friday). In a ruling issued Tuesday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ordered consolidation of three of the four lawsuits challenging the $300 million-plus in UC Berkeley development projects planned at and near the stadium. A second hearing Thursday morning ended with the county court’s Presiding Judge George Hernandez setting the Jan. 23 hearing before Judge Barbara Miller in the court’s Hayward Branch.
Attorney Stephan Volker, who represents the California Oaks Foundation, said the judge rejected a request by UC Berkeley attorneys to issue a court order demanding the removal of protesters who are camped out in the branches on trees slated for demolition if the projects are approved. “They wanted to be able to erect a fence around the trees and to remove a redwood tree and to announce the contract for removal of the trees,” Volker said. “They want all the protesters out of there.” The tree-in has drawn national media attention, most recently with a major article in Thursday’s USA Today. The redwood in question is the current abode of Zachary Running Wolf, the former Berkeley mayoral candidate who launched the tree-in Dec. 2 by ascending the branches of a redwood in the grove adjacent to Memorial Stadium’s western wall. The activist was cited last month and ordered off-campus for a week, but he returned last week and reclimbed the redwood—where he is currently one of a half-dozen protesters inhabiting the foliage of the grove. It is that same tree the university asked Judge Hernandez for permission to ax. “They also asked for permission to prune the trees, and we’re negotiating that,” Volker said. “I’m still here,” Running Wolf said Thursday afternoon, speaking by cell phone from his plywood platform high up in the threatened redwood. Told that the university had singled out his perch for destruction, the activist replied, “Of course. They know it’s our power base.”
As attorneys for the City of