Category Archives: Politics

With Berkeley set to change civic center zoning, US Postal Service ponders lawsuit

The Berkeley City Council is poised to set up new zoning standards in Civic Center. Image: City of Berkeley
Print Friendly

The U.S. Postal Service is pushing back against a city proposal to limit development at its downtown Berkeley post office property, which has been up for sale since 2012.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is slated to approve that proposal, to establish more restrictive development standards in Berkeley’s civic center on nine parcels, including the post office property at Allston Way and Milvia Street.

An attorney for the post office, R. Clark Morrison, has sent five letters to the city since January in opposition to the plan, decrying it as spot zoning, and saying the city’s decision not to pursue a full environmental review in connection with the plan is at odds with its own code and the law. On Monday, Morrison declined to comment on the matter, but one city staffer familiar with the issue said the USPS is likely to sue the city if council approves the zoning changes.

Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz Jr. said via email Monday that “The Postal Service is evaluating all options with respect to the actions taken by the City of Berkeley, including evaluating the possibility of litigation.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Op-ed: Measure D will not reduce soda consumption

Print Friendly

I was visiting recently with a fellow Berkeley parent while at the Washington Elementary School Fall Fair. He wanted to know if I was familiar with Measure D, and wanted to encourage me to support it.

Rather than avoid the topic, I agreed to indulge him and struck up a conversation about the pros and cons of this measure. After all, my family does not consume soda, and we have made healthy eating a cornerstone of our lifestyle. Additionally, I have … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Op-ed: Support Measure F for care, repair of Berkeley parks

Print Friendly

Life sometimes comes full circle. Eighteen years ago, I jumped into public service in Berkeley as a novice member of the Parks & Recreation Commission, experiencing first hand the tremendous assets we have in our parks, paths, street trees, and recreational facilities. Now, as I approach my final days serving on the City Council, one of my top priorities and personal passions is to see that we preserve these assets, well beyond my tenure.   That is why I am supporting … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Op-ed: Why a liberal mother of 2 is voting no on Measure D

Print Friendly

I begin with this confession: I don’t drink soda and I never have. My boys, ages 9 and 12, don’t drink soda, either. In fact, I’ve never even let them try it, because I didn’t want them to like it. If either of them has tried it, he didn’t tell me about it, or there would have been a lecture about sugar and empty calories. We don’t even drink juice; it’s only water and low fat milk for us.

It … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Op-ed: Why the 2014 Measure R is not ‘true green’

Print Friendly

In 2010, Berkeley voters overwhelmingly ratified a different Measure R, which gave city council the go-ahead to adopt the Downtown Area Plan, a plan created through an open and transparent process with wide community participation. It became law in 2012. The people who opposed the Downtown Area Plan in 2010 are now proposing a new measure, also Measure R, a complex bill that proposes to “fix” a wide range of supposed shortcomings in the Plan. These “fixes” will undo the … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Beverage companies donate $800K to fight soda tax

The PAC against a soda tax in Berkeley has poured $800,000 into the No on Measure D campaign. Will Berkeley be first? Photo: Mike Mozart
Print Friendly

The political arm of the American Beverage Association donated $500,000 on Sept. 16 to fight a proposed tax on sugary beverages in Berkeley, bringing to $800,000 the amount of money it has poured into the No on Measure D campaign.

The contribution, which appears to be the single largest in Berkeley history, will be used to print materials, mail campaign flyers, send campaign workers door-to-door, and pay for advertisements in newspapers and on websites. (Full disclosure: Berkeleyside has a number of No on D ads on its site, as well as a Yes on D ad.) … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Op-ed: All of us in Berkeley should say yes to Measure D

Print Friendly

I am writing to thank Erica Etelson for her op-ed in Berkeleyside on Sept. 8 in support of Measure D, titled “Soda kills – we need to vote ‘yes’ on Measure D.” It was well-written, passionate, timely, and on point.

We face an urgent and preventable health crisis and action is needed now!

Nationally, one in three of our children are projected to get Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes, a figure that rises to one in two … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Op-ed: Less shoot-from-the-hip, more planning for schools

Print Friendly

In the past fourteen years, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) has authorized $327 million in capital improvements. That represents approximately $15,000 in taxes per household, or about $35,000 per student, a generous investment by Berkeley residents. Most people are surprised to learn, however, that BUSD has allocated these resources without a Facilities Master Plan.

A Facilities Master Plan gathers and analyzes information from various sources to provide a comprehensive study of the district’s facility needs. Projections of student enrollment, an … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Op-ed: Save our green downtown: Vote ‘no’ on Measure R

Print Friendly

Jacquelyn McCormick’s Sept. 9th Opinionator piece published on Berkeleyside is filled with misinformation about Measure R. Measure R is a 28-page downtown initiative on this November’s ballot that would impose strict new requirements on housing and office projects in Berkeley’s downtown.

McCormick claims that Measure R would assure that new buildings in Berkeley’s downtown provide new community benefits. What she didn’t admit is that measure R is full of poison pills that would stop construction of the new buildings that … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Op-ed: Robert Reich: ‘If a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’

Print Friendly

I was phoned the other night in middle of dinner by an earnest young man named Spencer, who said he was doing a survey.

Rather than hang up I agreed to answer his questions. He asked me if I knew a soda tax would be on the ballot in Berkeley in November. When I said yes, he then asked whether I trusted the Berkeley city government to spend the revenues wisely.

At that moment I recognized a classic “push poll,” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Op-ed: True green not green-washed, we must support Measure R

Print Friendly

I am supporting Measure R 2014 Green Downtown Initiative for the following reasons:

In 2010, Berkeley voters overwhelmingly approved Measure R, but our City Council has not delivered on its promises.  Here is how the measure read:  

“Shall the City of Berkeley adopt policies to revitalize the downtown and help make Berkeley one of the greenest cities in the United States by meeting our climate action goals; concentrating housing, jobs and cultural destinations near transit, shops and amenities; preserving … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Op-ed: Soda kills — we need to vote ‘yes’ on Measure D

Print Friendly

In two months, Berkeley voters will decide whether ours will be the first U.S. city to enact a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (or tie with San Francisco which has a similar measure on the ballot). When I heard about the soda tax, “Measure D,” I immediately cast aside most of my to-do list (cleaning the oven survived the purge but colonoscopy did not) and volunteered to help the Healthy Child Coalition trounce Big Soda.

I was an easy recruit … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Judge changes Berkeley ‘soda tax’ ballot language

No city has yet been successful in passing a sugar-sweetened beverages tax. Will Berkeley be first? Photo: Mike Mozart
Print Friendly

An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled this week on what to change, and what to retain, in the ballot materials for a sugar-sweetened beverage tax set to come before Berkeley voters in November.

After hearing arguments Friday, Judge Evelio Grillo ruled Tuesday that some of the language in the ballot materials adopted by the Berkeley City Council earlier this year violated state election laws, was partial and should be changed, but also said language about who will pay the tax — it is to be levied on distributors — can be left as-is.

The sugar-sweetened beverage tax, Measure D, would levy a 1 cent-per-fluid-ounce general tax on distributors of soft drinks, energy and sports drinks, and sweetened teas, and the bulk syrup used to sweeten them. If successful, Berkeley could be the first city in the nation to pass such a tax, though San Francisco has also taken up the fight.

Supporters for the tax include a long list of community organizations, city and school district officials and other individuals. The campaign has called itself “Berkeley vs. Big Soda,” the Healthy Child Initiative and, now, Yes on Measure D. (The group is kicking off a lecture series this week regarding “the impacts of sugar-sweetened beverages.”) According to campaign filings from August, the group had about $21,000 on hand.

The opposition campaign, No on D — which previously was called No Berkeley Beverage Tax — has described itself as “a coalition of citizens, local businesses, and community organizations” but has published no list of supporters. According to its website, however, it has received “major funding” totaling $300,000 from the American Beverage Association. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,