Appeals court refuses to halt UC sports center construction

 A state appeals court in San Francisco turned down an appeal by two citizens' groups for a stay of a lower court ruling allowing the
University of California, Berkeley to build a new sports training center next to the university's football stadium.

A three-judge appeals panel in a brief order declined to grant either a stay or an expedited appeal process for a ruling in which Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller last month allowed the project to proceed.

The stay was requested by the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation.

Stephan Volker, a lawyer for the foundation, said the group will file a further petition for an expedited appeal with the California Supreme Court in San Francisco on Friday.

Volker said, “We're disappointed with the Court of Appeal; however, we will persevere.”

Volker said the group will also continue the normal appeal process, which could take one to two years.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said, “We're absolutely delighted. The Court of Appeal decision allows the construction to begin.”

Mogulof said, “The real winners in this case are the more than 400 student athletes who will now get their training center.”

Construction of the 158,000-square-foot facility, which is expected to cost about $140 million, was approved by a UC Board of Regents committee on Dec. 5, 2006.

Shortly afterward, a group of people began living in a grove of oak trees next to the stadium to protest the project because it calls for
tearing down most of the trees. 

The city of Berkeley and the two citizens' groups sued the university in late December 2006 to try to stop the project on environmental and safety grounds. After losing their case in the trial court, the two groups but not the city filed a petition for the expedited appeal rejected by the appellate court Thursday.

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