This election season, more than ever, is an important time to make our voices heard as a community. In the midst of extremist political pressure and partisan debate, it can be easy to feel hopeless about our impact on government — which is why it is especially important to vote in local elections as well as national ones. At stake is the future of your city, your county and your state. Each vote genuinely makes a difference in the outcome of a given election. Every election season, the editorial board of The Daily Californian comes together to endorse one candidate for every open position in city and local races, and to advise a vote on city measures. Each measure suggestion has been made after critical consideration of its potential impact on the Berkeley community. The following endorsements represent the majority opinion of the editorial board, as written by Sebastian Cahill, the head opinion editor.
Measure L — Vote YES
Measure L, which would attempt to create more affordable housing in Berkeley and better infrastructure, is obviously appealing in its promises of bettering the city for all of its residents, current and future. A “yes” vote allows this measure to be enacted, but we urge a “yes” vote to come with action that demands accountability from the city and creates oversight for the various projects the measure lays out. The measure is problematic in its lack of specificity and plans for accountability and transparency, something that can be addressed by the council members and other city officials. Additionally, the city should take steps to create infrastructure that is not only long-lasting, but that also prioritizes sustainability in its design. Vote “yes” to support this project in moving forward, but be sure to pay close attention to the actions of the city in the months after if the measure successfully passes.
Measure M — Vote YES
Measure M is an interesting one: It promises to tax owners of residential units if the units are unoccupied for a period of more than 182 days per year, with some caveats for specific situations, such as cases where a family member usually occupies a space but is away at school, or for small property owners, defined as owners of a single property with four or fewer units. Given that Berkeley currently faces a housing crisis, every bit of space matters, and incentivizing owners to competitively lower their rental rates will benefit renters across the city. Additionally, the protections for small landlords alleviates the pressure that such a measure could place on people who may genuinely be unable to afford the tax. The funds that result from the tax will be used to help fund municipal services, making it an all-around win for the average Berkeleyan.
Measure N — Vote YES
Measure N should be a no-brainer for city residents. While Measure L’s vagueness gives us some cause for concern, the same cannot be said about Measure N. Voting “yes” only empowers the country, state and city to be able to begin the processes of proposing and subsequently constructing housing. Voting “yes” does not agree to any specific project quite yet, giving voters more time to decide what they would want such a project to look like in their community. Additionally, the measure does not impose any kind of tax or fee on the residents — again, it simply allows the city to start thinking about the possibility of such projects. A “yes” for Measure N is a vote to support the lower-income members of the community and encourage the city to prioritize their needs as much as those of any other resident.