Now that the UC Regents have voted to approve a plan to build a 900-space parking lot and athletic training facility near Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, it's all over but the shoutin'. Oh, and the lawsuit the city is going to file challenging the plan. And did we mention the treesit? Ever since last Saturday's Big Game, three local activists have occupied three trees in a live oak grove that would be demolished to make way for the new sports infrastructure. Behold the names of our arboreal agitators: Jess Walsh, UC student Aaron Diek, and everybody's favorite "native American leader" and mayoral candidate, Zachary Runningwolf. "We're calling this, 'Free Speech in the Trees,'" says supporter Doug Buckwald.
So far, university officials have promised to plant three new trees for each one they uproot. But according to Buckwalk, it's not the number of trees that matters, but the number of leaves. "One mature coast live oak can have up to fifty thousand or more leave," he says. "Whereas a young oak sapling typically has fifty to a hundred leaves. So there's no comparison at all when you think of converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, filtering pollutants out of the air, and providing a habitat and nourishment to insects." As negotiations drag on, supporters are sitting at the base around the clock, and feeding the tree-sitters quite well, we might add. This morning, the trio had a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, and sausage, and two days ago, Rivoli chef Wendy Brucker sent over a lunch of peppers stuffed with raisins, vegan couscous, and curry spice. "They have a lot of vegans and vegetarians, so we tried to do something meat-neutral," says Rivoli manager Patrick Mercer.
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