Urban planning

Scorecard would help determine Measure M projects

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Measure M will provide more money for improving streets, but it will still fall short of the need. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The final public meeting currently scheduled to discuss Measure M spending will take place Thursday, July 18, at the South Berkeley Senior Center.

Measure M, to pay for bonds related to street and watershed improvements, was approved by 73% of voters in November.

Thursday, residents will have a chance to learn more about the proposal for how the city will spend the bond money, though which streets will see repairs or changes remains to be determined.

“We’ve been getting public comments coming in with people asking, ‘What about my street?’ They want to know where they are in the 5-year plan,” said Ray Yep, of the city’s Public Works Commission. “Right now we’re shying away from specifics like that.”

Yep said, currently, the city gets about $3.5 million each year in tax funding to handle street improvements, and the Measure M bonds will bring in an additional $6 million annually. Later this year, he added, the Berkeley City Council will approve the updated 5-year plan, which will set the specific priorities for spending.

“The amount of money available per year is going to triple, and the work per year is going to triple,” said Yep. “But which exact streets will be included, that answer is going to come later.”

What commissioners are proposing is to use all existing street operations and maintenance tax money for asphalt overlay work, and the Measure M money “to fund capital improvements that are intended to last longer than the repayment period.” These are “reconstruction”-type projects that may include additional grant funding, incorporate green infrastructure or have more complex designs.

Yep said commissioners are also proposing that the city considers adopting a rating system, at a future time, that would label projects according to sustainability criteria.

The city, in collaboration with the local League of Women Voters, has held two public meetings since May about the process to determine how Measure M funds will be spent. Yep said about 60 people attended each meeting, and that residents have also been submitting suggestions via email to PWEngineering@cityofberkeley.info

Through that process, commissioners have proposed some changes to the way the city makes decisions about which projects to prioritize. As an example, said Yep, commissioners have asked the council to use a special scorecard to set priorities. The scorecard takes into account a range of criteria that are not currently part of the 5-year plan ranking system. Yep described it as a “more comprehensive approach to evaluating projects” undertaken in Berkeley.

“It came from public input we had in the last meeting,” said Yep. “It has not been used in the city before.”

One key factor for many of the projects that may be included in the 5-year plan, said Yep, is that they are “shovel ready.”

“We want to see things get done, so one criteria is readiness,” he said. “Is the project ready to move, or does it take more engineering, more study?”

All the commission proposals — the scorecard, the sustainability rating system and the suggested uses of tax money vs. Measure M money — are still in draft form, and would need to be approved by the council prior to adoption.

The third and final Measure M community meeting currently scheduled will take place Thursday, July 18, at 5:30 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. Those with questions can email Ray Yep of the Public Works Commission at rayyep1@gmail.com, or Sherry Smith of the League of Women Voters at president@lwvbae.org. The public may also send comments to PWEngineering@cityofberkeley.info

Related stories:
Second Measure M planning meeting comes Saturday (06.06.13)
City asks residents to brainstorm Measure M spending (04.23.13)
South Berkeley neighbors ask city for help to improve (04.19.13)
Ambitious public works program falls short of need (03.21.13)
Pensions, infrastructure key Berkeley budget liabilities (02.20.13)
Budget: Spending cuts needed to avoid shortfall (01.28.13)
Council supports Sunday Streets, looks to find funds (01.25.13)
Berkeley General Fund revenues may fall short in 2012-13 (12.12.12)
Average Berkeley street in at-risk condition, many worse (11.16.11)

At a glance: Measure M fact sheets
Measure M prioritization process (2013)
Process overview (2013)
May meeting overview (2013)
Street rehabilitation and repair policy, and 5-year paving plan (2013)
Active transportation (2013)
Watershed management plan (2013)

Other related documents and resources from the city of Berkeley:
Measure M expenditure plan: Development and implementation (2013)
Update of the 5-year street paving plan for 2013–17 (2012)
Watershed subcommittee meeting, with watershed plan update (2012)
Permeable concrete paver report on ‘sustainable paving for the 21st century’ (2012)
City auditor’s report on Berkeley’s “failing streets” (2011)
City street rehabilitation and repair policy (2009)
Measure M overview
Measure M, via smartvoter.org
Watershed management plan resources

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  • Jeff

    No matter what streets are resurfaced, cool pavement technology should be used. It neatly dovetails with Measure M objectives.

  • Woolsey

    I hope the criteria is forward looking – non-auto travel (foot, bike) and reuse of stormwater runoff is going to become increasingly important in our brave new world (and cool pavement as Jeff suggests).

  • Hildah

    Oh! So Berkeley. Let the old and disabled rot inside their houses.

  • guest

    “I hope the criteria is forward looking”

    If you’d like to pay your taxes forward…say 30 years in advance, or so, fine. Otherwise I’m looking forward to repaving MY street in MY lifetime!