Tree-Sitters and UC-Berkeley Both Claim Legal Win

Judge says building injunction remains, but only until school clears up handful of minor compliance issues.

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A ruling by a county superior court judge had both sides claiming victory Wednesday in the long-running dispute between tree-sitters and UC-Berkeley officials over the construction of an athletic center that would displace part of an oak grove, the Daily Californian reports. Although the judge did not lift the injunction on construction (score one for the tree-sitters and their activist brethren), she did decide that the university is mostly in compliance with environmental and earthquake zoning law—and would be able to resubmit its claim to begin construction once it made the adjustments (and score one for the university).

The protesters, however, are clinging to their small wins: "I would like to say, most of all, the children won today," said the unofficial protest leader, after the ruling was announced.

The real winners, however—as is the case with all painstakingly long litigation—could be the lawyers and the contract workers who benefit from the dispute. Both sides say their legal costs are much higher than expected, and the university has spent $375,000 on extra policing, round-the-clock security, and the construction of two fences that surround the tree-sit site—all this before Tuesday's round of treetop sparring and use of a crane to cut supply lines.