Tag Archives: Berkeley elections

Plans firm up for Berkeley soda tax, city parks measures

Proponents of a soda tax were out in force in neon green at Berkeley City Council. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley officials voted Tuesday night on ballot language related to a November 2014 soda tax proposal, but exactly what sort of fundraising request might come before voters to help the city’s parks remains to be determined.

Regarding the soda tax, voters will be asked whether the city should “impose a general tax of 1 cent per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages,” payable by distributors with gross annual receipts over a certain amount.

Ballot language proposed Tuesday night would limit the tax to businesses with receipts over $100,000, but Councilman Laurie Capitelli said the number is still a bit in flux, and will be clarified in June when the Berkeley City Council makes its final decision on city-driven ballot measures. … Continue reading »

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Would new green initiative kill 2 downtown high rises?

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Update, June 14: The initiative has qualified for the November 2014 ballot.

Original story: As volunteers man the entrances to Berkeley Bowl, wander the farmers markets, and stop people on the street to collect signatures for what is called the “Green Downtown & Public Commons Initiative,” the various sides disagree on the impact the initiative may have on development in Berkeley.

City Councilman Jesse Arreguín, who is a main backer of the drive, says the initiative is merely aimed at making major developers contribute more community benefits.

“This measure is not intended to stop development at all,” said Arreguín. “Its purpose is to codify some of the community benefits that were not only made in the Downtown Plan, but in Measure R.”

But many in the development community disagree. They believe the initiative, with its higher green standards and less flexible design guidelines, could stop two current projects — the proposed 180-foot hotel at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, and the 17-story residential apartment tower behind the Shattuck Cinemas building. At the very least, if the initiative passes, it will make it harder to build taller structures downtown. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Beware deceptive ‘Save Post Office’ ballot petition

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Don’t be deceived. Backers of a proposed measure for the Berkeley ballot in November are circulating voter-signature petitions under the guise of “saving the Post Office.” But the main thrust of the measure is to impose prohibitively restrictive fees and requirements on new projects in Berkeley’s core downtown. It would not guarantee that the Post Office would continue operating.

The result would be a devastating blow to our acclaimed Downtown Area Plan. This successful plan was formulated through extensive public … Continue reading »

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Community survey shows difficulties for ballot measures

No city has yet been successful in passing a sugar-sweetened beverages tax. Will Berkeley be first? Photo: Vox Efx
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A second round survey of likely voters in Berkeley reveals the difficulty some likely ballot measures will face for passage in November.

The City Council commissioned the survey to test the waters for potential ballot measures. The first council-directed survey done in early March showed good support for a potential tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Other measures, including a parks parcel tax, commercial vacancy tax, and a pools bond, received tepid support. The latest survey, done in the second week of April, showed diminished support for the sugar tax, some hope for supporters of the commercial vacancy tax, and a continuing struggle for parks funds.  … Continue reading »

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Initiative aims to tighten ‘green’ parts of Downtown Plan

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Update: 6//14: The initiative has qualified for the November 2014 ballot.

Original story: City Councilman Jesse Arreguín, some members of the environmental community, the labor community, and preservationists are circulating a ballot initiative that would drastically overhaul elements of the Berkeley Downtown Area Plan endorsed by voters in 2010 and codified by the city council in 2012.

The initiative would restore the “green” in the “Green Vision” part of the plan, according to Arreguín.

It would essentially mandate that all buildings in the downtown core taller than 60 feet high follow the more stringent “Green Pathways” provision of the Downtown Area Plan, rather than making that an optional track for developers. … Continue reading »

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Judge rules for council-majority-approved map in bitter Berkeley redistricting battle

The BSDC map approved by Judge Grillo will be used in November, unless an appeal overturns the decision.
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Judge Evelio Grillo ruled today in favor of using the council-majority-approved district lines in the November 2014 election. Grillo heard closing arguments in City of Berkeley v. Tim Dupuis and Mark Numainville Tuesday.

In a 35-page opinion, Grillo determined that the council-approved map, also called the BSDC map, “is the one that best complies with meeting the mandates of equal protection and minimizing any disruption to the election process.”  … Continue reading »

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Judge plans to rule today on Berkeley redistricting lines

More than 20 people attended a hearing Tuesday about contested redistricting lines in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, 4:30 p.m. The judge has ruled in favor of using the council-majority-approved district lines. See his ruling here. (A more in-depth Berkeleyside story on the decision is online here.)

Original post: An Alameda County Superior Court judge is expected to rule Wednesday, April 30, about which district lines the city of Berkeley should use in the November 2014 general election.

Judge Evelio Grillo heard arguments Tuesday from advocates of some kind of compromise map that is different from the map approved by a Berkeley City Council majority in December. The city of Berkeley sued the county registrar of voters and city clerk earlier this year to find out which lines to use after the council-approved map was suspended by a referendum drive.

More than 20 people — most of them in support of a compromise map, of which there are several — attended Tuesday’s hearing. They were represented primarily by Councilman Jesse Arreguín and Alejandro Soto-Vigil, along with attorneys for Councilman Kriss Worthington, Stefan Elgstrand and Phoebe Sorgen, all of whom have been named as “real parties of interest” in the lawsuit.

Attorney Margaret Prinzing, of Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, appeared for the city of Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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3, maybe 4, candidates vie for Wozniak’s council seat

Elmwood by Sharon Hahn Darlin
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UPDATE, 05.15.14: George Beier has announced he will be running for the District 8 council seat following the April 30 confirmation of which redistricting map the city will be using.

ORIGINAL STORY: Three candidates — with a fourth waiting in the wings — have taken out papers to run for Berkeley City Council’s District 8 seat that has been held by Councilman Gordon Wozniak for three terms.

Mike Alvarez Cohen, Lori Droste, and Jacquelyn McCormick have all filed to run in November for the seat. George Beier, who three times ran in District 7 against Councilman Kriss Worthington, may join the race depending on the final outcome of new City Council district boundaries. A court is expected to rule on those boundaries on April 30. (Update: A Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of the council-majority-approved redistricting map, which would allow Beier to enter the District 8 race. Learn more about the ruling here.) … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: How to see through the fog of redistricting

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Berkeley’s current redistricting process is a foggy mess.  For readers, I’ll try to clear some of the fog by, first, presenting a timeline of pertinent events and then offering my take on these events.

REDISTRICTING HISTORY 

1986—District elections established by voter initiative and enshrined in City Charter in response to perceived left v. moderate chaos and neighborhood unfriendliness of at-large Council elections.  Boundary lines drawn for eight Council districts. These lines were to provide the template for future boundary adjustments … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: It’s time to compromise on Berkeley redistricting 

Detail of the BSDC map, one of several under consideration for Berkeley.
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The Berkeley City Council is engaged in a lawsuit with itself over redistricting. With leadership and compromise, we can put this matter behind us Tuesday night (tonight).

How we got here: Redistricting is required every 10 years. Since populations shift and federal law requires that each citizen be represented equally, it was necessary for Berkeley to draw new district lines. Berkeley voters also passed Measure R, which allowed “communities of interest” to be recognized. Students, for example, considered themselves one such … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Do not sign any petitions at all in Berkeley

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Councilman Laurie Capitelli has urged good citizens to question the need for, and motives of, the people seeking signatures on initiative petitions, and by implication, to vote against them. That would include the Overlay Petition which seeks to prevent the privatization of our public buildings (including but not limited to the U.S. Post Office).

I urge you to obey him and question the motives behind that ordinance before you sign it.

Why?Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Think about the importance of your signature on a petition

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Berkeley’s iconic wisteria is exploding. Our young trees on Solano are budding out after their (barely) second winter. And as spring declares its arrival, so does our upcoming election season.

As a result, we should all get ready to be pursued by both paid and volunteer initiative petition signature gatherers on our street corners, in front of Peet’s, the Bowl, the Cheeseboard and the Farmers Market.

As you enjoy the fine weather this spring and frequent your favorite community shopping … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Let’s join forces to back Healthy Berkeley program

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A broad coalition of diverse community representatives came together before the Berkeley City Council recently to call for Council support for two very important “Healthy Berkeley” initiatives. One involves a city parks bond proposal, and the other a proposed tax on sugary drinks.

Both could provide long-term funding for healthy city improvements, including parks, playgrounds, pools, school gardens, and nutrition and physical education programs.

Recent events require action

Several recent events have galvanized community … Continue reading »

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