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Berkeley Measures M, R pass; Measures U, O, N, V fail; Measures S and T still uncertain

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NOVEMBER 07, 2012

Update as of Wednesday 2:51 p.m.: 

Although tentative predictions are being made based on the votes that have been processed, the election is not over until every single ballot is counted, according to Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave Mcdonald.

Accordingly, the fate of some local measures including Measure T — which currently differs by about 100 votes — are still uncertain.

Mail-in ballots that were dropped off at the polls and provisional ballots are still being processed and could potentially sway the final vote, according to Mcdonald.

“The election is not over until every single ballot is counted — there is a misconception that provisional ballots only get counted if it is a close vote, but that is not the case,” Mcdonald said. “We legally have 28 days to process all the votes, but we get it done much faster.”

Mcdonald said that he did not have the final voter turnout numbers yet, but he estimates that it will be less than the 78 percent of Berkeley residents who turned out for the 2008 election.

Measure M: Pass

Berkeley citizens voted to pass Measure M — a proposal that allows the city to issue general obligation bonds to improve streets and promote green infrastructure. About 73 percent of Berkeley voters cast their ballots in favor of the measure as of midnight Tuesday.

Under Measure M, the city is allowed to issue $30 million worth of general obligation bonds to fund and accelerate the city’s five-year street-repaving plan and the Watershed Management Plan, which aims to utilize rain gardens, swales and permeable paving — collectively termed “Green Infrastructure” — to improve the city’s stormwater management systems and improve overall water quality in the Bay Area.

The estimated fiscal impact on Berkeley homeowners will be an average of $38 for a $330,500 home annually over the 30 years that the bonds are outstanding.

Opponents of the measure say the bonds will not generate enough money to fund the infrastructure project through to its completion and that it enables “funding of experimental technologies,” according to the argument against Measure M. Berkeley Budget SOS, the Committee for FACTS and the LeConte Neighborhood Association, among others, were opposed to the measure.

Proponents included state Sen. Lori Hancock, City Councilmember Linda Maio and former city manager Weldon Rucker.

— Megan Messerly

Measure U: Fail

An ordinance to add new meeting and record requirements on city boards and commissions failed to pass today in the elections, with 76.48 percent of recorded voters voting against the measure.

The Berkeley Sunshine Ordinance would have allowed members of the Berkeley community to put an item on a Berkeley City Council meeting agenda by gathering 100 signatures and implement an 11 p.m. curfew on City Council meetings, among other changes.

The measure would have also created a new commission to enforce the ordinance.

“Inadequate information leads to escalating misunderstanding and a lack of civility in interactions between City staff, elected and appointed officials, and the public,” the measure states.

Opponents of the measure argued that Berkeley residents already have access to the information that Measure U requires. The measure adds nothing but excess bureaucracy, according to the official rebuttal. It was opposed by state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, and Councilmember Linda Maio.

Opponents also worried that the measure would have created a body with unreasonable power that could not be held accountable, with removing and replacing commissions, which is normally a function of elected council members, in its capacity, according to an argument against the measure.

The initial cost to implement the measure’s requirements are estimated to be approximately $35,000, with annual costs between $1 million and $2 million, according to the analysis.

— Chloe Hunt

Measure N and O: Fail

Berkeley voters did not reach the necessary two-thirds vote necessary to approve Measure N and Measure O — bonds that would have used proceeds to improve the city’s community pools.

About 60 percent voted yes on Measure O, but the contingent Measure N failed with about 62 percent of voters choosing to reject the measure. Both measures required a two-third majority to pass.

Measure N would have provided funding to build a new warm pool at West Campus and replaced a warm water pool and associated facilities at West Campus and repair or renovated the pools and associated facilities at Willard and Martin Luther King Jr. middle schools.

The companion Measure O would have imposed a special tax totaling approximately $604,000 per year to fund operation and maintenance of the swimming pools and aquatic programs at West Campus and and at Willard school.

Measure N was estimated to cost $19,400,000 to fund construction for replacing the warm and Willard pools, and renovating or replacing associated facilities, as well as repaired, and improve locker rooms at the West Campus and King pools. According to  the City Attorney’s Analysis, the tax rate would have cost $9.55 per $100,000 of assessed valuation and the rate is expected to decrease each year with the assumption of one bond series with the average cost of $7.01 per $100,000 of assessed valuation during the measure’s 30 year issue.

The annual cost of the Measure O parcel tax for the 2013-14 fiscal year would have been $14.80 for a 1,900 square foot home, $23.37 for a 3,000 square foot home and $77.90 for a 10,000 square foot building, according to the City Attorney’s Analysis.

Alyssa Neumann 

Measure T: Too close to call

Measure T, which would rezone parts of West Berkeley, was narrowly defeated with 50.19 percent of voters.

The measure would have allowed for amendments to be added to the West Berkeley Plan and Zoning Ordinance that increase the maximum building height from 45 feet to 75 feet, with an average site-wide height of 50 feet. In the first 10 years of the measure’s implementation, the changes would have only affected six large properties in the area, which is larger than four acres and has a majority of its ownership under one entity.

When final results came out, 49.81 percent of voters had cast their ballots in favor, with a margin of about 100 votes.

These properties would be granted six master use permits that allow for development on the land, given that they provide a number of unspecified benefits to the West Berkeley community, a quantity to be determined by the City Council.

The measure is endorsed by a number of individuals and organizations, including the Alameda County Democratic Party, Mayor Tom Bates, California State Sen. Loni Hancock and the Telegraph Property and Business Management Corporation, according to the Yes on T website.

Measure T is opposed by several organizations and individuals, including the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, the North East Berkeley Association and Berkeley City Councilmembers Max Anderson, Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington, according to the Save West Berkeley website.

— Andy Nguyen

Measure R: Pass

Berkeley residents can expect a significant change in district lines and maybe even a student-majority district due to the passage of Measure R.

Measure R will amend an existing city charter to eliminate 1986 boundary lines and instead use major traffic arteries, natural geography and communities of interest as boundaries. The measure garnered 65.86 percent of the votes, with dissenters amounting to 34.14 percent.

Currently, voters in Berkeley are divided into eight council districts — each with its own elected council member who resides within that district —  to comply with the 1986 district lines. The council is required to adopt new council district boundaries within three years after the U.S. census comes out, which happens every 10 years.

The last time a UC Berkeley student sat on the City Council was in 1984, despite students making up about a quarter of the city’s population. Measure R’s passage will allow the council to create a student supermajority district. However, those against Measure R feared it would allow the council too much discretion in determining district lines.

Proponents of Measure R included Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and Assemblymember Nancy Skinner. Opponents of the measure included mayoral candidate Jacquelyn McCormick and former Berkeley mayor Shirley Dean.

— Libby Rainey

Measure V: Fail

To address Berkeley’s long-term financial difficulties, Berkeley residents voted to reject Measure V — an initiative that would have required the city to provide biennial financial reports — with 61.21 percent of votes.

Also called the Berkeley F.A.C.T.S. — Fiscal Accountability, Clarity, Transparency and Sustainability — Ordinance, the initiative would have required the city to prepare and publish a report specifying its financial obligations, such as employee-related costs and capital improvements, every two years over a 20-year period beginning March 1, 2013.

The initiative would have also prevent the council from changing fees, assessments and taxes if a certified financial report is not provided by the city manager or an independent professional.

According to the fiscal year 2012 & 2013 budget books, Berkeley faces around $330 million in unfunded liabilities, which are costs that are not presently due but must be paid in the future. Pensions account for $205 million of these unfunded liabilities.

Supporters, which included Berkeley Budget SOS and various neighborhood associations, contended the measure would have increased transparency within the City Council to help address the unfunded liabilities.

Opponents of the measure, including Councilmember Laurie Capitelli and state Sen. Loni Hancock, said the measure was too vague and would have “crippled” the city’s ability to pay its own bills and that it would continue to cost the city millions of dollars.

— Daphne Chen

Contact the newsdesk at [email protected].

NOVEMBER 07, 2012

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