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State moves at record speed to clear way for UC Berkeley enrollment

Gov. Gavin Newsom wasted no time in signing legislation on Monday to halt a cap on student enrollment at the University of California at Berkeley.

The bill, known as Senate Bill 118, had passed unanimously through the state Senate on Monday afternoon and had been awaiting the governor’s signature.

The bill amends the state’s environmental law to allow about 2,600 more students to attend the university in person in the fall. The new law requires environmental reviews of campus growth, but for the total campus population and not just the number of students on campus.

Opponents of the bill say it will result in more litigation. Phil Bokovoy, president of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, said that allowing for the influx of more students will have a grave impact on housing affordability and availability, as well as environmental impacts.

He said:

“UC Berkeley does not have the capacity to handle more students, and more than 10 percent of current Berkeley students suffer homelessness during their education.”

Newsom touted the bill as a way to embrace the “dreams” of students, saying in a statement released early Monday evening:

“I’m grateful to the Legislature for moving quickly on this critical issue.”  

Newsom added:

“It sends a clear signal that California won’t let lawsuits get in the way of education and dreams of thousands of students, our future leaders and innovators.”

Lawmakers said that the bill passed Monday will affect not just UC Berkeley but all University of California campuses, state university campuses, and community college campuses.

The state Assembly on Monday passed a separate but identical bill.

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