The California Supreme Court has cleared the way for the University of California, Berkeley, to build housing for students and unhoused people in historic People’s Park.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the ruling clears the way for the university to move forward with its $312 million construction project.

Some neighborhood groups have opposed the plan, saying the university should leave the park alone and choose less-disruptive alternative sites elsewhere in Berkeley. A state appeals court ruled last year that the university had failed to consider those locations or to submit any plans to shield neighbors from noise that might result from “loud student parties."

But the state legislature enacted a law that said the university need not consider other housing sites. The bill also specified that noise from the project would not have a “significant effect on the environment” – removing any remaining legal obstacles. 

In light of the legislation, “this lawsuit poses no obstacle to the development of the People’s Park housing project,” Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero wrote in a 7-0 ruling.

Because of the new law, UC Berkeley’s environmental report “is not inadequate for having failed to study the potential noisiness of future students at UC Berkeley in connection with this project,” Guerrero said.

When the new state law led to more demonstrations, police swept protesters from the park in January and set up a wall of metal shipping containers to keep them out.

After the Supreme Court decision, the university released a statement:

"We are pleased and relieved that the Supreme Court’s decision enables the campus to resume construction at People’s Park. The housing components of the project are desperately needed by our students and unhoused people, and the entire community will benefit from the fact that more than 60% of the 2.8-acre site will be revitalized as open park space."

UC Berkeley provides housing for only 23% of its 45,000 students, the lowest rate in the 10-campus University of California system.

The People's Park project would provide housing in the park for 1,111 students in a 158-unit complex. A separate building would contain 125 beds; either half or all would be for homeless people, depending on available financing.