Pools majority falls short: Closures expected

Measure C, the ballot proposition that would have funded rehabilitation of Berkeley’s four pools, won just over 60% of the vote, falling short of the required two-thirds.

Robert Collier, co-chair of the Berkeley Pools Campaign, said in an email exchange shortly after the votes were counted last night, “Measure C lost only because of the Prop. 13 two-thirds requirement for new taxes.” He continued:

In any other system but California’s, we would have won a landslide victory. We had a great response from a broad swath of Berkeley, from the hills to the flats, from Shirley Dean to Tom Bates to Kriss Worthington, and more grassroots participation than any campaign in recent Berkeley memory. But as in the state legislature, the Prop. 13 legacy gives the conservative minority the ability to block the needed revenue measures to save our state and our communities from crisis and collapse.

Collier also said the failure of Measure C raised a larger question for him:

The importance of Measure C stretches far beyond the pools. The latest news from Congress indicates it is unwilling to give enough federal aid to rescue states and municipalities from their fiscal crisis. So a wave of fiscal dominoes will hit American cities with a catastrophic series of budget cuts that affect schools, parks, and other needed services. Measure C is an initial indication of how communities will react — will we do what is necessary to save those services? Or will we allow everything to crumble and decay?

One immediate consequence of the lack of a two-thirds majority on the measure will be the closure of the Willard Pool on July 1. The warm pool at Berkeley High will close next year when BHS demolishes the building to make room for more classrooms.

The final tally according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters was 10,421 votes for Measure C (60.38%) and 6,837 votes opposed (39.62%).

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  • Zach

    Two-thirds requirement didn’t kill the last Berkeley schools tax or the library bond. I think the pools folks need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better proposal, and next time show more respect for their neighbors with different views.

  • laura menard

    Robert, as my father-in-law ( served as city manager in several small Colorado towns ) used to say, “take it like a man and stop blaming your wife…….

  • Janet

    I am very saddened that C did not pass. Two points: First, I really do hope that the pools campaign goes back to the drawing board: we need our community pools! If the opposition point on the League of Women Voters Website is correct, and those needing the warm water pools could be given Y memberships for 1% of the cost of building a new warm water pool, that is the way to go–it’s cost efficient *and* greener. Second, we have yet another reason to organize to repeal Prop 13.

  • Hank

    Berkeley citizens have admirable goals in mind. We have a wonderful library system, the best senior citizen facilities in the area, and a system to help meet many of the needs of the homeless. My mother, who lives in nearby El Cerrito, takes activities classes at the main senior center in Berkeley and uses the Berkeley Public Library because these institutions are much better than those in El Cerrito. I’m glad that she’s able to do this. However, the more Berkeleyans support and promote these types of services, the less likely surrounding communities are to create or support their own. Since Berkeleyans often support regional services, we should get surrounding communities to help us to pay for them. This was a weakness in Measure C. – Hank

  • Diane

    If it had been uncoupled with the inclusion of operating costs in perpetuity as part of the bill, I would have voted for it – chalk it up to a poorly-written bill, not Prop 13.

  • Maureen Burke

    Well said, Zach and Laura. I am greatly relieved there will be no Mello-Roos parcel tax on my house. And to think I thought only slimy developers in Contra Costa County ever took advantage of Mello-Roos! It’s time for the city to be responsible and pay for city services out of the city budget. If only the city had actually maintained the pools over the years, they never would have fallen into the current state of disrepair.

    Mr. Collier’s tactic of painting opponents as evil conservatives was not effective because it wasn’t true. This was the first bond measure I ever voted against.

    Tonight the School Board votes on the $210 million BUSD bond measure for the fall and they must be quaking in their boots at this result. If they don’t provide real assurance about oversight this time around, as well as a very narrowly worded ballot measure, that bond will sink too. The school bond measure should fail if the school board continues to avoid responsibility for their lack of accountability on the Measure AA bond of 2000. After 10 years, I’m still waiting for anyone, anyone from BUSD to explain what happened to building classrooms at Berkeley High when that was the very first and most expensive item on the ballot measure and we now have fewer classrooms than before the $116 million bond measure. I suppose Mr. Collier will demonize me because I expected Measure AA to build classrooms for Berkeley High, which is what we voters were promised, and now the money is gone and there are fewer classrooms now than before the bond measure. Our public officials should be held responsible. No more money until they show signs of competence and trustworthiness, whether it’s the city or the school district.

  • s z underwood

    Coincidentally or not, the final tally for Measure C nearly parallels the percentage of home owners vs. renters in Berkeley:

    There are 40% of homeowners and 53% of renters in Berkeley, CA. Home vacancy accounts for 6%

    Also, we know that in any ballot measure, organization and funding levels are paramount to the final outcome. Does anyone have access to the final spending numbers of pro vs. anti-Measure C groups? My sense is that the entire local political establishment was solidly behind Measure C and that they had raised far more money to promote it than the opposition. I saw only a handful of anti-C signs scattered about town, several taped to shrubbery and nearly invisible.

    Also, as various others have noted, some Measure C advocates attempted to polarize this issue by framing it as “conservative” vs. “progressive” one which added a further stigma to anyone openly questioning the wisdom or actual necessity of this measure. Personally, I think this negative and extreme rhetoric backfired and helped alienate many undecided or swing voters in Berkeley.

    Given all of the above factors, I would say that 40% “no” is actually a fairly strong repudiation of Measure C since all of the cards were stacked so heavily in favor of Measure C’s passage from the outset in a community like Berkeley.

  • Berkeleyite

    This is a huge victory. There’s a sign on a building on San Pablo that says “tax the rich until the ain’t no more”. The only problem is that Berkeley defines rich as anyone who works for living, owns a home, or is struggling to operate a small business. Berkeley home owners are already heavily taxed in order to pay for a city bureaucracy the size of which is unheard of in a city three times our size. Berkeley was at its best when the city councill was part-time, city employee pensions were’t so outrageous, and we weren’t encumbered by boards and commissions establishing everything from rents to US foreign policy. Lets build pools by shifting funds, not raising taxes.

  • Justin

    Collier is well-versed in shoot the hostage finance talk. Instead of blaming his weak tactics of zero-sum game bondwriting the pro pool people should have constructed a more fair tax and bond underwriting.
    The kids lose because the Mayor, board, Collier and collectivists don’t understand how to make a rational proposal that can pass a 2/3rds majority. That’s called preventing a tyranny of the majority in the Federalist papers if I recall.
    Gearing up progressives and renter class to hurt homeowners never works.
    Going for a homerun bond that costs so much money and basically gives the corrupt City a backdoor to raid the general fund was BOUND to fail. The 4 color glossies and marketing couldn’t save this dog of a bond tax.
    Collier and Co. You FAILED to save the pools.

  • to zach

    I agree that any plan can be improved. But it’s sad to see how the minority (regardless if is conservative or liberal) rules.

  • Cliff Magnes

    I supported Measure C, but only because my assessments are more than my taxes, and the warm pool is a life saver for so many people (yes, both in Berkeley and from surrounding areas).

    I believe what we’re seeing is a backlash against the kind of cynical budgeting calculations that go on behind closed doors (and right out in the open), not just in Berkeley, but nationwide.

    It’s always the libraries, parks, schools, cops, firefighters, or other visible and valuable community services that get cut, and then a special bond measure or parcel tax that has to be passed to “restore” or “maintain” those services.

    Everything that municipalities used to be responsible for, their very raison d’etre, is becoming an “extra” which must be paid for in addition to the salaries and retirements of those who drove the city omnibus off the road, through the ditch, and into the phone pole.

    If municipalities and their elected officials aren’t careful, the citizens may come to realize that they aren’t getting what they’re already paying for. Trouble is, what’s the alternative? The wheel may be crooked, but it’s the only game in town.

    PS to sz underwood: Very interesting correlation, even if coincidental. I agree with your conclusion about the strong repudiation of Measure C.

  • Cliff Magnes

    “Tax the rich until the ain’t no more?” Probably just a typo, but let’s educate everyone until they “ain’t” no more, then maybe we’ll be able to tax everyone fairly. Oh, wait a minute, we need to tax everyone fairly in order to afford to educate everyone fairly. I knew there was a flaw in that plan.

  • L.

    I voted against Prop C. If it had truly included only rehabilitation of our existing pools and keeping Willard pool open, I would have voted for it in a second. I think it’s a real shame that Willard St. pool will close as a result, but I wasn’t willing to bet the farm in order to save the cow, so to speak. The measure failed because the supporters were unwilling to de-couple the warm pool issue from the support of other pools, and totally unwilling to answer fair and honest questions like “Why can’t we instead subsidize memberships to the existing warm pools in Berkeley for a fraction of the price of building a brand new one?”. Asking that doesn’t make me a conservative, it’s a logical question that I was never able to find an answer for, other than, “the other warm pools in Berkeley are unsuitable”. What does that even mean?!?

    The measure was flawed at the root because it was not simply “support our pools” it was “build a brand new pool in an undetermined location with undetermined costs and no analysis of alternatives”. The supporters dreamed too big, and yet without enough detail or forethought.

  • Lisa

    I suggest that the 10,421 people who voted yes go ahead and raise some money and directly fund a solution. You don’t need 2/3rds permission to do something you believe in.

  • Beth

    I would be willing to be taxed in order to pay for rehabbing the Willard pool and also to subsidize (fully if necessary) fees for the elderly and disabled to use the YMCA warm pool. Like L. states above, however, I was not willing to increase my already high tax payments in order to build a brand new warm pool when one already exists. Maybe the YMCA pool isn’t deep as some would like (the website says between 3.5 and 4 feet) but when you are using scarce public money, sometimes compromises need to be made. This was the first bond measure that I have ever voted against. Should the Yes on C people decide to put future measures on the ballot to fund pools, keep in mind that you have to make some concessions if you want your measure to pass.

  • People should remember that the bond in this measure was to support the construction of two pools, not one. It was also to renovate rather than merely repair Willard and West. Atop the bond was, of course, the special tax to maintain and operate the pools.

    The rush to condemn the concept of building a new warm pool strikes me as premature. Had this measure concentrated on eking a bit more life out Willard and West (repair, rather than renovate), skipped the new pool at King, and built a replacement warm pool – it would have been far less expensive. Repairs to Willard and West could only be seen as shorter term solutions so there is a tough call to make there (as in when do you get rid of rather than repair an old car). Still, it would have been an easier measure to “sell” and bought some time.

    A new warm pool, incidentally, would have the potential to generate private / public partnerships with, for example, health care providers. My sense is that it is well worth looking into the possibility of getting significantly more revenue from a new warm pool.

    Looking around the ‘net, is seems that Berkeley is not unique in its current dilemma. Some cities have had luck turning towards private charity to keep pools open.

    With a patched-up Willard and West, perhaps the City could seek private assistance to not only maintain traditional hours, but to expand hours and better promote the pools. My notion is that with higher use rates, the prospects for full renovation and the construction of a new pool would improve.

    In any event, it does appear plausible that we now face a reduction in service because the project of preserving current levels of service became entangled with fairly ambitious plans to increase service. In the current economy and with the current level of trust in City government, judging by comments above and elsewhere, the measure was hard sell, at best.

    It’ll be a long hot summer, I guess.

  • Diane

    Me too – like others note above – first bond measure I’ve ever voted against. From what I hear there are many of us in this same place.

  • Justin Lee

    Cliff Magnes-
    Exactly .The pools were paraded around with children and injured seniors as a marketing ploy for a way that Tom Bates and the infinite money supply people to open up a big gap in the general fund to raid.
    Instead of making real cuts and restructuring retirement benefits, Bates and Co. wanted to create an offshore-type slush fund for “just” pools. But that money was in the general fund. Now the general tax fund had a pool maintenance “surplus” to move into the budget holes.
    -There was no discussion about the bond interest rate. 4-5-6%? It makes a HUGE difference
    -the 30 year payment plan was silly. Bonds have to be paid off as fast as possible-and the bond money should be as minimal as possible
    -The tax rate total(corp and residential) was not calculated and there was no refutation of the comment that the city could bring in more than they needed-and spend it on themselves.
    -No comments about why the actual pools needed to be rebuilt. Were they leaking, heating inefficient, poor access, not meeting code? all the above? I ran by Willard yesterday and it looks OK to me.
    -Where did the bid come from. Was it an open bid. What are the tallies for all the costs. Most residential customers get a tally.

    The era of free money is over. The credit system is broken and everyone is deleveraging their debts as fast as possible. Adding to the debt burden was bad enough-adding an inflation adjusted, undetermined amount of cost to the homeowner was greedy and just so myopic it’s hard to describe. Asking for charity at knifepoint will get you nothing.

  • Alicia

    I think this all came down to the bundling of the warm pool in with the other city maintained pools. It would have been a much more modest bond measure without the warm pool inclusion and likely would have been a no-brainer for 66% of the voters in the election. Berkeley has a long history of passing bond measures and other special taxes easily by the 2/3 required, so I think it is disingenuous for supporters to decry the 2/3 rule in this case. Interestingly, the voters also denied the Library a bond measure in 2006 but then handed the Library the money to do extensive renovations in 2008. This goes to show I think that the voters over the entire spectrum can be reasonable when presented with reasonable choices.

  • EBGuy

    Long hot summer? See you at The Plunge… All kidding (and scorched earth rhetoric — ease up Mr. Collier, Prop 14 is coming to town) aside, I probably could have held my nose and even voted for a deluxe pool plan that included waterslides. I simply can’t stomach the maintenance Mello-Roos parcel tax in perpetuity.

  • Fed Up

    I am so relieved C didn’t pass. I think pools are wonderful. I’d love to have a public pool in the hills, but no one in this city would ever talk about that. And where would we put it? All the school in the hills were stupidly sold off except one. I’m not going to apologize for living in the hills – that’s where the house was when I bought it and it was too expensive to have it moved to the flats so I could be politically correct.

    I voted no on C because $22 million seemed excessive when there are so many other things this city needs. Since the city can’t be bothered with basic city services, how about a bond measure to repair our streets, repair the crumbling culverts throughout the city, or even to provide decent bus service to the hills which has been cut out or cut to the bone? Hey, I know we can drive to what is left of downtown, but there is no place left to park after our fair city has systematically done away with parking structures, contributing to the ruin of downtown, not to mention our tax base. My favorite perk for city employees, right after the free membership to the YMCA, is the free bus pass they give themselves, because after all, there is no place for the “workers” to park (hello! – or anyone else). Talk about conflict of interest.

    The issue about replacing the warm pool has been kicked around for years, in spite of there being another warm pool a few blocks away. They just tried to get around their being told no before by lumping other pools into the mix. It isn’t a matter of Prop 13. It isn’t a matter of conservative versus liberal. It is a matter of limited funds and more pressing priorities.

  • Josh

    I hope the planners come back with a more modest pool proposal. I believe it could pass.

  • Justin

    A proposal to fix existing recreational pools at a lower cost would work easily. Plus an increase of only 35 bucks in taxes for all recreation. Plus downsizing staff and pension obligations to show the city WANTs to be family-oriented and NOT helping just their salaries and retirement plans. Add membership annual passes that are high enough to recoup some money and it’s a deal. Public subsidized by all homeowners and NOT a giveaway like everything is now in The City.

  • Daniel

    A 40% conservative minority in Berkeley?

    It is the very purpose of cities and local districts to provide things like schools, libraries, pools, roads, sewers, garbage collection, and security. They, not the city’s special interest in social justice, should be paid out of the city’s general budget.

  • JNG

    From what I understand, 92 degrees is not a “warm” pool, its a hot tub in disguise – parading it as something for families and kids to swim and recreate is just plain wrong – its completely unsuitable for that purpose.

  • Justin Lee

    Collier(A Bates hitman) is flailing. He totally failed the kids and the City. He only had to sink the putt but basically whiffed it as he added bloat and absurdity to a bond measure in the middle of a huge recessionary deflation. The amount of cluelessness is astounding on his part.
    November. Come back and construct a better deal for the “majority” of the recreational pool users. You will always get slammed for insulting those who offer compromise.

  • JNG

    Gotta love this little strategic wedge that I’m sure came back to bite them in the a**:

    “How much will renters pay if the bond issue passes?

    Zero. Landlords will not be allowed to make any automatic rent increase. Any rent increases would have to be approved by the Berkeley Rent Board.”

    So guess what renters?! Free pool access for you paid by landlords!

    What’s not to like!!!

  • JNG

    “Measure C lost only because of the Prop. 13 two-thirds requirement for new taxes.”

    The 2/3 requirement is not even in Prop. 13, its in the latter Mello-Roos Act. But, no matter, you gotta feel bad at how d*mn inconvenient it is that a simple majority can’t just randomly raise someone else’s taxes whenever they feel like it??

  • JNG quoted:

    How much will renters pay if the bond issue passes?

    Zero. Landlords will not be allowed to make any automatic rent increase. Any rent increases would have to be approved by the Berkeley Rent Board

    One remarkable thing about that item from the FAQ is that it is simply false. Landlords are free to pass the additional costs on to any new rental of a vacated unit. Rent control does not apply to some units. Even in controlled units tenants “feel” increases in ownership costs in the forms of reduced maintenance and increased pressure to vacate.

    Both sides played “dirty pool” (sorry) on the issues of renters.

    That said, I don’t think that “renters” dominate voting around here, especially not where a 2/3 majority is needed during a minor vote with predictably poor turnout. I don’t have the impression that that wedge was either central to the Yes campaign’s strategy or especially decisive (in the sense of “came back to bite them in the a**”).

    The very strong rent control of the 1970s does appear to have created a lasting political polarization in Berkeley, at least in just the conversations people have in forums like this. With vacancy decontrol at the state level, exceptions extended for condos, and new development: I’m really doubtful that the owners vs. renters axis is all that central to Berkeley politics anymore. Sure, it’s an emotional issue for some small groups on either side but… is there anything more to it than that, anymore?

  • (oops, my little HTML fragments are messed up in that post. Once again: please BS, give us an “edit” button (that let’s one edit one’s own comments for a short time after putting them up) or a “preview” button)

  • Justin Lee

    There are certain politicians that count on the student and renter class. Kriss Worthington comes to mind. They think that “buying a house” is the same as “owning one.” As most homeowners are net debtors, the renters are just piling on the expenses to one class of people. The majority is using the minority as a free benefits engine. That works until the economy blows up-and this economy will not return for 20 years since its deflationary.
    Margaret Breland was an installation by the rent control market people in the 90’s, so saying they have no clout is untrue. The City is always fighting freeloaders like UC Berkeley and trying to collect it’s fair share in revenue.
    The bond was constructed to punish homeowners and businesses only-with no USE TAX alternatives for everybody else. Many towns have annual memberships for municipal tennis,swimming so the pain is spread across the board.
    Then, of course, the really pedantic and juvenile attitude(why do you hate children) of the Pro-C people was a huge turn off. They looked STUPID and IGNORANT when faced with questions about finance and just resorted to calling opponents as teabaggers. So you can imagine how they would handle the money if they got it…thank GOD they didn’t!
    It’s a new world out there, and free money on credit cards doesn’t exist anymore. Someone send the memo to the mathematically challenged that float this garbage

  • tizzielish

    I voted for the pool measure in spite of my serious misgivings about some of it. I am glad, actually, that it lost and glad I voted for it.

    I am in my late fifties and a lifelong lap swimmer who moved to Berkeley from Mountain View about a year ago. I was, and remain, flabbergasted about the conditions of the public pools.

    Some comments say things like “I just saw the Willard pool, it looked just fine”. Take a closer look. The public pools are crumbling, the locker rooms are crumbling. A community’s self esteem is revealed in the details. What kind of message is sent to young people when we teach them the life skill of swimming or teach them the life value of maintaining one’s health through exercise, when the facilities are decrepit. There are inconsistent messages: one message, that health and safety skills matter, is counterbalanced by the decrepit conditions, which says “you don’t matter”.

    What kind of message do we send ourselves when we say the elderly and the disabled don’t really matter enough to fund a new warm pool?

    And this: Berkeley is an educated, erudite community but even now, the people who opposed the measure, the ‘winners’, continue to spout nonsense. Have these people actually seen the warm pool at the Y? Did they read the many articles that have debunked the nonsense that UC has a warm pool? The only warm pool in Berkeley, after the one at the h.s. closes next year, will be a very small, relatively shallow warm pool at the Y. And keep in mind that the Y warm pool is already in use: that pool will not grow more capacity if we fund memberships for the elderly and disabled. I don’t think the Y pool could accomodate the volume of people now currently benefiting from the warm pool at the h.s.

    How is it that such nonsense, inaccurate data, keeps getting used by seemingly educated, intelligent people? You guys ‘won’, you defeated the pool measure. As you gloat, couldn’t you, finally, use accurate facts? Please?

    AND ANOTHER THING: how do seemingly educated, intelligent citizens get the idea that renters don’t pay property taxes?! Their rent pays property taxes. Landlords don’t ‘eat’ their property taxes, they pass taxes along to their tenants.

    I am a little confused by Thomas Lord’s formatting . . . but I think he is the commenter who points out that the rent control from the seventies continues to influence how this community thinks about renters’ relationship to property taxes .. . but statewide changes in property law has almost eliminated the ‘seventies rent control measures’.

    I have noticed confusing billboards, often at AC Transit bus stops, that advertise that the Berkeley rent board can help tenants. I think such billboards are a disservice to renters. I think those billboards perpetuate the polarization that I think Thomas Lord has pointed out. I don’t think the rent control board can do very much about controlling rent increases anymore. I imagine the rental ‘control board’ can help tenants’ somewhat, but rent control barely exists in the state of CA anymore.

    All renters pay property taxes.

  • tizzielish

    Something I would like to know: did the proponents of Measure C work aggressively with parent communities in our local schools to get out the vote?

    I think Measure C was defeated yesterday because the forces opposing the measure did a better job of getting out the vote.

    I believe that an aggressive campaign directed at the parents of local school children to vote for community pools by getting to the polls yesterday might have given the measure the 5.5% more votes needed to win.

    I saw almost nothing around Berkeley reminding the community to vote yesterday. I believe a high turn out of parents and ‘renters’ and seniors would have given Measure C a win. I am relatively new to CA (3.5 years). I am amazed by how invisible a voting day can be in this state.

    Of course, if proponents of Measure C had been out pushing people to vote, opponents would have also been more aggressive.

  • tizzielish

    Justin Lee, the stuff you say doesn’t make sense to me.

    Do you understand that people pay to use the public swimming pools? That’s a use fee, right?

    The vast majority of rental homes in Berkeley turn over frequently, which allows landlords to raise rents to reflect increases in property taxes and assessments. Perhaps there are some holdover renters protected by grandfathered rent-control protections but ‘new’ leases are not bound by olden days rent control. As you point out, it is a new world and in this new world, with very very few holdout, longtime renters (very very few), renters in Berkeley pay property taxes.

    Any landlord who owns rental property in Berkeley who believes that s/he cannot make a profit because of property taxes and assessments can sell their property. Most landlords are in the business to make money. They have chosen to be in the business they are in. They look at their budget, make choices and set rents to cover their cost of owning the building plus make a profit.

    Renters pay property taxes, not landlords. Stop villifying renters.

  • Get Realz

    This was a terrible turnout so getting out the vote was horrible on both sides. The % reflects homeowner versus rental clash yet again. I have been here long enough to know it still exists.
    The rental market is SOFT so raising rents is not easy at all.There are rental decreases to keep a tenant-not increases. This is a really, really bad market to be bitchslapping businesses yet again too-they are in WORSE shape. Commercial real estate market is rolling over as we speak.
    The Willard POOL isn’t crumbling anymore than the others. I use the KING pool and the support building looks like crap but is functional. The pool water is blue and doesn’t have anacondas floating in it either. But, it could use an UPGRADE.
    I think 5.5 million on average for each pool, plus 20-30 million in interest fees, plus 30 million in taxes minimum is NUTS. Those are Measure C’s numbers-not mine! Saying anyone with numbers is a liar without providing your goddamn numbers makes you guys look STUPID and uneducated. A bunch of whining babies who cannot articulate why 4 pools should cost $22 million plus 20 million interest plus 30 million in 30 years times 1 million annual maintenance(to max of 35 million). Those are REAL NUMBERS that your checkbook doesn’t have to bother with.
    Do you pay $50 for a tomato at the Berkeley Bowl? Or 10,000 dollars a month in utilities too? This down vote was about VALUE for the DOLLAR-not about the existential value of a pool and swimming. Pro-C people just don’t get anything…sigh

  • So, what is triage here?

    Has there been any contingency planning for keeping Willard open another season? What about repackaging a warm pool and perhaps repair proposal (e.g., for November)?

  • Get Realz

    The recreational pools should and can be saved for minimal money-like 4x cheaper than the current proposal. The warm pool is expensive to build,run and will not generate income. That’s a joke-when has government made a dime in revenue except in taxes.
    Asking for 11 million bucks for a specialty pool, at about 110,000 dollars a user is beyond community generousity. It’s for suckers plus it won’t get built anyway with or without money. I have seen the City bait and switch tax money before. See LIBRARIES.

  • laura menard


    1.the proponents outspent the opponents considerably
    2. all the local pols and assemblymember promoted the measure
    3. schools allowed teachers to promote the measure to students
    which is a violation of policy
    4. PTA and the school board promoted Measure C

    Politically and financially Measure C had the advantage, making the loss even more impressive

  • Jlee

    Measure C forces had an unlimited fund to bomb the neighborhoods with disinformation about the financing. Placards, Mailers-they could have fixed Willard for the amount of money spent on marketing(kidding…I think.)
    Where did that money come from? I suspect follow the money or the BOND UNDERWRITERS. They stood to make 20+mill on the deal

  • DaveO

    Prop 13 worked as intended – preventing the government from incurring additional spending on projects that do not have broad community support.

    If you want a pool, the solution is to look for donations to keep the pool open, perhaps managed by a non-profit entity, or allow a for-profit private partner invest in the pool and generate revenue as they see fit.

  • Maureen Burke

    It’s been mentioned before but bears repeating: The city must develop long-range infrastructure plans before one more bond measure is conceived. Then all city residents can weigh in on which projects should be funded first and how much total money should be spent over a specific time period. No more willy nilly asks. Let’s have an intelligent prioritization of capital expenditures.

  • Justin

    Tizzlefish- I’m vilifying the Berkeley government for not including a big use tax for pool usage. The bond was marketed specifically as a homeowner, business tax. It’s guaranteed that the homeowner would pay but if you read the news (yes, reality)you will notice that rental markets are soft and landlords have to compete for renters with cheaper rents. Stop pretending this was a fair tax and bond because it’s marketed to renters as only a homeowner tax and a free ride. What’s the use tax that is fair? A lot more than they charge now. The pro C vote = almost 60% which almost corresponds to the non- mortgage payer population.
    If anyone should be vilified it’s the politicians who always fight homeowners and leverage the student or renter as a weapon to get what they want.
    The city can’t do anything right and overreached bigtime on this one.
    All housing markets are collapsing and pickpocketing landowners in a deflation to pay for chi-chi retirement packages was dumb. It’s all just one big accounting scam.

  • Justin,

    For one thing, you have absolutely no evidence of how the pro vs. con vote went down along renter vs. owner lines. When you try to draw that inference from just the vote percentages overall, you are well into Glenn Beck territory.

    For another, the measure was hardly marketed in any heavy way towards renters. It was a tiny bit as in that FAQ question earlier cited from and as in *slightly* different “Yes on C” mailers sent to renters vs. owners. That line of potential polarization didn’t escape their attention but hardly seems central to their calculations.

    Some other stuff you say I certainly agree with: The city over-reached. Raising parcel taxes during a difficult deflation in the real estate market is an effort likely to fail. I’m not all out against you. I’m just saying that you’re exaggerating or at least talking without any persuasive evidence about the whole renters v. owners angle on this thing.

  • david wilson

    It is good that comments have focused on one of the fundamental issues in Berkeley politics. This is that 2/3 of the voting population are tenants, and that nearly all of these are protected by rent control. Berkeley’s rent control guarantees tenants a life estate at current rents, which means that they may vote for any property tax increase with assurance that they will feel none of the impact so long a they stay where they are.

    The same is true of the student vote. Students know that for the duration of their tenure there will be no impact on them; for the great majority who will leave after graduation it feels good to vote for things like warm water pools, but in the back of their minds they know they won’t have to pay for them.

    The comments do not address the other big factor in Berkley politics, which is the power of the labor unions who represent city employees. Their contracts guarantee salaries and benefits that far exceed anything available in the civilian sector. What this means is that nearly 80% of the City budget is committed in advance to supporting the salaries, medical benefits and pensions of city employees. These escalate every year in amounts far exceeding inflation and ensure that within five years the City will face financial disaster. In the meantime the City is totally unable to renew infrastructure, much less construct and maintain new facilities like warm water pools.

    Whether on the right or on the left, Berkeley’s politicians have a tacit agreement not to make waves on either rent control or labor issues. So long as this is the case, Berkeley homeowners (especially those who have come to town recently) will just have to take it.

    The politicos do not have the courage to address these issues. Hopefully the vote last night will shake them up.

  • s z underwood

    Allow me to quote our old friend Robert Collier’s assessment of the vote total from the Oakland Trib:

    Robert Collier, a UC Berkeley researcher and co-chair of the campaign for Measure C, said he’s afraid the defeat spells doom for other city services funded by the public.

    “Conservatives have now succeeded in preventing the rescuing of Berkeley pools, and the next target will be our schools,” Collier said. “And after that, who knows what. There certainly are conservatives in this town, and they don’t call themselves Republicans, but that’s what they are.”

  • Justin

    Thomas Lord,
    The Berkeley Renters/Politico cabal has been going on for 30 years. Whether it’s a huge factor in the failure of Prop C I can’t guarantee. As typical of any inflationist/Keynesian approach to Finance, one always wants to pretend as if free money exists and the “other”guy will pay your way. Hence why bonds are so popular in an age of credit abuse. You judge it the way you see it. I’ve seen this for a long time.
    I can tell you this: When I explain finance and the accounting fraud involved with this measure, I usually get a changed attitude because it’s not about POOLS or KIDS, it’s about how the government class can abuse a system for their own benefit. Measure C went down in flames because 40% of the voters don’t trust what the City Government has to say. See Libraries and Schools.
    And, as typical of the abusive/government class, they shot the hostage to show their power in these matters. if they “really cared” we would be talking about collectivist sacrifices in salaries and obligations and paying taxes to solve this problem. Instead, the government holds true to self-aggrandizement and starts taking aim at one class of people-I’m supposing they call this class the Petty Bourgeois Homeowner Class.
    On another note, the political aptitude of the City is refreshing. They are so inept they asked for 4x the amount needed. They rolled in tangential pork called the warm pool. They acted like babies and started the demonization of the skeptics. They got hated politicos involved like Bates and Dean. They asked for all this in a deflationary credit crash. They proved to be unsympathetic to underwater homeowners. They showed they couldn’t add 2+2 and ran from the finance discussion. They ran the campaign as a shoot the hostage blackmail scheme-and it was blowback central.They had a sure thing and totally BLEW IT. We all pay because they are dumb. Period.

  • Diane

    Hmmm…Collier’s painting of everyone who opposed this as “conservatives” only points out how disconnected he is, and how poor a representative of this measure. I don’t think he realizes how much his shrill accusations and partisan name-calling turned off many of the voters.

  • Lori Kossowsky

    We never will, and we never have. I am so sorry Willard has to close. Again, I cannot swim at the Y, it is meant for young children, under 3 feet. I am over 5 feet. I tried and almost injured my knee doing the doctor recommended “work-out” People will die without the warm pool. When a city looses compassion, it’s a very sad state of affairs. Oh, and about the Library bond, they had a chance and it was our turn, but we were denied. Also if the BUSD had used the money that the voters voted for about 10 years ago, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Since when does the BUSD override a bond that the citizens of Berkeley voted for? I believe that was measure R. Shame on them.

  • Get Realz

    The Warm Pool is a medical facility-not a pool. The City shouldn’t be running medical facilities or hot tubs or SPAS at 11 million bucks.
    Someone should get BAYER involved with a warm pool intitiative

  • Warm Pool at any cost

    Lori, please explain why homeowners should foot the bill for an $11 million dollar pool that is used by roughly 100 people? And why did you hold the rest of the City’s much more used pools hostage by insisting on combining the two issues? If you will never stop fighting, then I suggest you be honest with the voters and put a measure on the ballot for the warm pool, and ONLY the warm pool, and if it still doesn’t pass, you will have no choice but to admit defeat. This warm pool at any cost attitude is hurting many more citizens than the warm pool itself helps.