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California Supreme Court Denies UC Regents’ Petition For Review And Application For Stay In Case Pausing Increases In UC Berkeley’s Student Enrollment; Governor Signs Law To Stop Enrollment Cuts
In 2018, Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, a California non-profit group of Berkeley residents formed “to improve the quality of life and protect the environment,” challenged the University of California, Berkeley’s admissions process in a lawsuit. Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods argued that the university failed to provide enough on-campus housing for its students while it continued to increase and exceed its student enrollment in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act. The Save Berkeley’s Neighborhood group asserted that the university’s plans for expansion caused displacement among existing residents.
In August 2021, a trial court ordered UC Berkeley to freeze its enrollment and suspend any further increases in student enrollment at UC Berkeley in academic years 2022-2023 and later – which results in approximately 3,000 fewer seats than planned for fall 2022. The University of California Board of Regents appealed the ruling seeking to stay the order to freeze enrollment while the appellate process proceeds.
On March 3, 2022, the California Supreme Court announced that it would not be reviewing the appeal from the UC Board of Regents where the trial court ordered the university to cap its campus enrollment at the 2020-2021 levels. As a result, UC Berkeley would have been required to cut enrollment before the Fall 2022 semester.
On March 11, 2022, the California legislature introduced and unanimously passed Senate Bill 118, which gave California public colleges and universities 18 months to address California Environmental Quality Act-related issues before a court may issue a decision impacting enrollment growth. On March 14, Governor Newsom signed the legislation, which had an immediate and retroactive effect on UC Berkeley, and negated the enrollment freeze ordered by the trial court.