Tag Archives: Measure R

Op-ed: A tale of two Measure Rs

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This is a tale of why and how the citizens of Berkeley got scammed by voting for the 2010 Measure R, and then scammed again when they voted against the 2014 Measure R. Let’s start with “why”. Why is the 2010 Measure R really a high-rise, luxury condo development plan that won’t help Berkeley’s housing problems or the environment? The answer is found in the global condo market driven by speculators parking some of their $30 trillion in liquidity (see Jack Rasmus’ “Epic Recession”) in luxury housing. These mostly foreign speculators are inflating a bubble identical to the mortgage backed securities bubble that popped in 2008. Developers are not building housing that will relieve the housing crisis for moderate and low income workers in the bay area. Instead they are catering to high-end demand from both speculators and techies.

But you might ask, doesn’t 2010 Measure R at least demand “green” construction? And the answer is NO. There is no such thing as “green” luxury condos. It’s an oxymoron — like green yachts. They waste resources. They drive up housing prices and force people who actually work in Berkeley to live elsewhere – leading to more waste from commuting. Expensive condos rented at $3k-$4k per month will result in other landlords also raising rents forcing more people to commute from outside Berkeley. Teachers, firefighters, police, hospital workers, city workers, and small business employees – they can’t afford to live in Berkeley. The city needs to demand that all new construction requiring a zoning variance be directed toward moderate or low income housing. New development should be used for public benefit, not to maximize profits. … Continue reading »

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Around $3.4m spent on Berkeley soda tax campaign

The No on Measure D campaign covered the Ashby BART station with signs - on the floor, on the walls, and next to the ticket machines. BART made the campaign takes some of the signs down on Oc. 8. Photo: Marian Mabel
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The tally is in: the campaign surrounding Measure D, the one cent per ounce tax on sugary beverages, cost $3,374,155, according to recently filed campaign statements.

The soda industry spent $2,445,107 to unsuccessfully battle Measure D in the November election, with most of the funds going to campaign consultants and media companies, according to the campaign statements.Continue reading »

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Op-ed: No on Measure R isn’t nearly enough

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I am thrilled that we voted 3 to 1 to defeat Measure R, and that the building of new housing in downtown Berkeley will continue. Let’s build on this momentum, and get serious about addressing the massive housing shortage in our community that is hitting working families hard. Downtown is great, but we have to do an order of magnitude more to bring supply and demand into balance.

Only 18% of Alameda County families can afford to buy the … Continue reading »

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New hotel project is a go again after defeat of Measure R

The developer for a downtown Berkeley hotel proposal at Shattuck and Center said his plans are on hold pending November's election. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Now that Measure R, the initiative that aimed to impose stricter standards on tall buildings, has been defeated, the project to build a hotel downtown is back on track.

Developer Jim Didion of Center Street Partners LLC had stopped all design work on the hotel planned for the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street pending the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. Didion had contended that the requirements called for by Measure R would make the project financially infeasible.

But after Measure R was delivered a resounding defeat — No on R captured almost 74% of the vote, according to the most recent tally — work was set to resume, said Matthew Taecker, one of the hotel’s consultants. He said revisiting the design will be one of the team’s first tasks. … Continue reading »

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A record $3.6 million spent in Berkeley campaigns

During Sunday Streets, the Yes on Measure R and the No on Measure R campaigns crossed paths. The race over the future of Berkeley's downtown has drawn record donations from developers. Photo: Franes Dinkelspiel
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2014 will go down in history as the most expensive election ever held in Berkeley, with around $3.6 million spent on two ballot items alone.

The two items — Measure D, which would levy a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, and Measure R, which would substantially strengthen the environmental requirements for tall buildings in downtown Berkeley (and which critics contend would kill new construction)  — drew campaign donations from all over the country. The race to replace Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner also attracted huge outside donations. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Democracy, transparency and Measure R

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Last March after Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan received a prestigious national American Planning Association award, I wrote the following for the “Cal Planner” newsletter:

“In the end, support was overwhelming as eight of nine Council members adopted a new Downtown Area Plan … but what a long, strange trip it has been. The 2012 ‘DAP’ was forged from the crucible of Berkeley’s special style of community decision-making — fueled by passionate debate across almost 200 public meetings, … everyone … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Measure R delivers on the green promise for downtown

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The Green Downtown Initiative is the latest chapter in the land use battle between big developers and the rest of us.

In 2010, Berkeley voters approved a different Measure R, which asked voters to adopt a “Green Vision” for the downtown, ostensibly to meet the City’s climate action goals. The measure promised voters that in exchange for a few tall buildings, Berkeley would become one of the greenest cities in the United States.

Unfortunately, the City Council majority enacted zoning … Continue reading »

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Berkeley city attorney: Main post office may have sold

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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The Berkeley city attorney has informed the City Council he believes someone has purchased the downtown U.S. post office at 2000 Allston Way, and that it is time for Berkeley to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service to stop the sale.

A letter to that effect was leaked to the Berkeley Daily Planet, which published it on Thursday.

Zach Cowan, Berkeley’s city attorney, told Berkeleyside he could not share the letter he sent to council since it was privileged attorney-client communication. But Cowan said the version on the Planet website was accurate.

“It is my conclusion that at a minimum a buyer has been chosen, and that it is likely that there is at least a letter of understanding in place, if not a contract and perhaps an open escrow,” Cowan wrote to council, according to the Daily Planet.Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Measure R will kill emerging downtown renaissance

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Berkeley has an international reputation as a free-thinking, expressive, welcoming and experimental city.  The current battle over the city’s downtown and November’s Measure R contradicts this image of ourselves, and in the worst possible way.

While promoted as a “soak-the-evil-developers” proposal, in reality Measure R is a thinly disguised attempt to freeze Berkeley in the past and wall off a potentially larger and more vibrant downtown to new residents. Rather than being progressive and welcoming, Measure R will keep people … Continue reading »

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Berkeley ballot snafu, more money in for 2014 election

Alameda County officials are mailing out postcards to alert voters that the date of the election printed on mail-in ballots is wrong. It reads Nov. 5, 2014, when it should read Nov. 4, 2014. Photo: KQED
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The Alameda County Registrar of Voters has sent out 27,000 postcards to Berkeley voters informing them that the date of the election printed on their mail-in ballots is wrong. The date reads Nov. 5, when of course the actual date is Nov. 4.

“This is an unfortunate error on some vote-by-mail envelopes sent to voters in Berkeley, and we deeply regret any confusion this may be causing,” Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis said in a press release.

Read all you need to know about local elections on our Election Hub page

A printer used by Alameda County and other California counties has accepted responsibility for the error, said Dupuis. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Vote no on Measure R — it’s a misleading initiative

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Most of us want a new downtown; why are we asked over and over to keep the old one? Why do we have to fight another misleading initiative — Measure R?

After years of debate on a plan to revitalize our downtown, we had the first initiative campaign to stop it, and a subsequent election, in which the plan was approved overwhelmingly by voters in every precinct in Berkeley. It provided for a new green downtown with new housing for … Continue reading »

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Berkeley 2014 election hub: What you need to know

I voted
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Absentee ballots have arrived and the November 2014 election is just around the corner. Berkeleyside has been covering the issues for months, and we’ve collected some of our best Berkeley election coverage in a single post to help readers get informed before they cast their votes.

Browse Berkeleyside’s 2014 election coverage.

Berkeley has several council seats up for grabs, and seven ballot measures under consideration. If you haven’t yet plugged into the local issues on the table, here’s your chance. On election night, we’ll cover the results live, and we plan to keep this hub updated as Nov. 4 approaches. If you think it’s a good resource, we hope you’ll share it with your friends and neighbors.

See our election-night live blog here, with continuing updates.Continue reading »

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District 8 candidates share their vision for downtown

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The race for Berkeley’s District 8 seat, soon to be vacated by City Councilman Gordon Wozniak, is the most competitive of the 2014 election season. Four candidates are vying for the post: George Beier, Michael Alvarez Cohen, Lori Droste, and Jacquelyn McCormick.

The Downtown Berkeley Association recently sent a set of questions to the four candidates. They mostly focused on their vision of the downtown, although one asked about the city’s finances. We publish their responses below:

Read more about the Berkeley 2014 elections on BerkeleysideContinue reading »

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