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Sep 22, 21

Berkeley, CA: Inside the Fight to Save 1921 Walnut St.

New documentary looks at the fight to save 1921 Walnut Street tenants from eviction in so-called Berkeley, California.

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1921 Walnut St. is a 112 year old rent-controlled apartment building in downtown Berkeley home to several long-term tenants. In 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the University of California (UC) purchased 1921 Walnut St. UC’s plan was to displace the tenants and demolish the building so that notorious real estate heiress Jackie Safier could redevelop the block for luxury, short-term, student-only apartments.

The Berkeley community came together to protest UC’s plans. The 1921 Walnut St tenants and their allies held several protests, marches, community BBQ’s and events. The Berkeley City Council supported the tenants, along with the Sierra Club, the ASUC, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, Tenant and Neighborhood Councils, Berkeley Tenants Union, and countless community leaders and local groups.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin also supported the tenants. Then suddenly in July 2021, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin held closed-door negotiations with the University of California and surrendered 1921 Walnut St. to UC. The tenants and the community felt deeply betrayed. Without the support of the City of Berkeley, the tenants could not mount a defense.

After over one and a half years of struggle, the tenants at 1921 Walnut St. are set to be displaced by November 2021 and the building is set to be demolished starting in November 2021. But this was never just about winning or losing – this was about putting up a fight! And we put up a damn good fight!

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