‘Gimme Shelter’: How an environmental law is blocking some students from going to UC Berkeley

Students walking past Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley in March 2020.
(Associated Press)
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Fewer students likely will be attending UC Berkeley this year because the university lost a court battle and is required to cap its enrollment.

The law at issue? The California Environmental Quality Act, which for a half-century has been the state’s premier environmental law governing development. The decision marks an expansion of the law, which requires an evaluation of an effort’s environmental effects, to now potentially determine how many students schools are allowed to admit.

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we explore why the law is blocking UC Berkeley’s enrollment plans and whether state officials are going to change it. Our guests are Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, who recently was co-author of an opinion piece in The Times advocating for the university to admit more students, and Phil Bokovoy, the head of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, the group that filed the environmental lawsuit against the university.


This episode, including the interviews, was recorded before the state Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday to affirm Berkeley’s enrollment cap.

Gimme Shelter,”a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it, features Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Manuela Tobías, housing reporter for CalMatters.

You can subscribe to “Gimme Shelter” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud and Google Podcasts.