Letters to the Editor: UC Berkeley created a housing crisis. It needs to enroll fewer nonresidents

Students walk past Sather Gate on the UC Berkeley campus in 2018.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

To the editor: The op-ed article by Berkeley’s mayor and two City Council members about the court-ordered enrollment cap at UC Berkeley makes several claims that are not based on the facts.

Since 2005, UC Berkeley has added about 13,000 students but only 1,600 beds. This has created a massive housing shortage in Berkeley.

There are not “tens of thousands” of applicants who would be affected, but rather about 5,000. Further, UC’s own data show that all of the deserving California residents could be admitted to UC Berkeley if the campus admitted fewer nonresident undergraduate, graduate and nondegree-seeking students. In addition, students could be accommodated on other UC campuses, which also offer a world-class education.


UC Berkeley increased enrollment in 2021 by more than 2,700 students, or 4%, from the pre-pandemic levels in 2019. The enrollment cap only returns the campus population to the status quo.

UC Berkeley’s massive increase in nonresident enrollment has displaced large numbers of qualified California residents, with low-income California students especially paying the price: The proportion of Pell Grant recipients at UC Berkeley fell from 34% of undergraduates in 2010, to 27% in 2021. Much of the fall has been because of the very high cost of housing in Berkeley.

In 2021, UC Berkeley was the fifth-most popular campus for California resident applicants because students are aware of the housing shortage. UC Berkeley has poorly served lower-income students.

Politicians should worry less about the total enrollment and care more about getting our talented young Californians enrolled and housed at UC.

Phil Bokovoy, Berkeley

The writer is president of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, which is the plaintiff in the UC Berkeley enrollment case.


To the editor: If the written law still applies anywhere in this country, then the residents of Berkeley have every right to insist on the enforcement of the rules.

The court found the university’s relevant environmental impact report to be deficient in its failure to consider traffic, noise and crime. Could that be because the planners see no reasonable way of abating the negative impacts of those conditions on the community to be affected?

Perhaps UC Berkeley should consider other methods to attain its enrollment goals.

Louis H. Nevell, Los Angeles


To the editor: I’m a UC Berkeley alumna. My first reaction to this story was this: Did the people bringing the lawsuit move to Berkeley before or after the campus was established there?

For the record, the campus was opened in 1873.

Sue Kamm, Los Angeles