University of California students’ best interests are served on Nov. 8 by voting No on Measures L and N.
Vote No on L, a revenue measure for $650 Million dollars, because no student benefits are explicitly slated to be paid for with the $650M.
Vote No on N, a housing measure, because there are no student benefits that will come from what would likely be a multi-million-dollar measure.
City leaders have grown accustomed to the revenue they receive from UC students. This has been a time-honored tradition in Berkeley. Students pay high rents for scarce housing. These generous rents enable the city to collect property taxes and business taxes from property owners. Dormitory students have their city services paid for by the campus per a settlement agreement. But despite all the city revenue realized from students, the Berkeley City Council has continuously taken a stance against campus students. In fact, recently, the city of Berkeley sued the UC Board of Regents over the campus’s Long Range Development Plan; the UC system only settled the lawsuit by agreeing to pay the city of Berkeley $4.1 million per year. Such an antagonistic position by the Berkeley City Council against students and their families who support them financially should make students think twice before they vote to increase city revenue. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this revenue increase furthers the interests of corporations more than the student community.
The corporations that are poised to benefit have raised over $250,000 to date. The signs you see in public places urging you to vote for Measure L are paid for by wealthy corporations such as Martin Marietta, Bridge Housing and Panoramic Interests. They seek to increase the revenue they obtain from UC students through these ballot measures.
What will UC students and their families get from Measures L and N except more of the same high-cost housing and neighborhood degradation? The ballot measures have neither specific goals nor a project list, so voters can’t hold the City or the corporations accountable for how they spend the money. Berkeley has a terrible track record with oversight — one could almost say they are allergic to it. Indeed, Berkeley citizen oversight committees have been utterly frustrated in their efforts to find out why money for streets isn’t spent on paving (Measure M), homeless funds aren’t spent for shelters (Measure P) and wildfire safety funds aren’t spent on disaster preparedness (Measure FF).
The affordable housing for students mentioned in the city’s ballot argument for Measure L is an empty promise. The City’s Housing Element has disclosed this fact. So, why should campus students pay even more for affordable housing for others? They already pay a lot — especially for 100% economically segregated buildings, like Bridge and RCD buildings, that are not required to pay certain city taxes that students are. The Council also wants students to pay to remodel the City Hall they use, even though they seem perfectly happy on Zoom, don’t they?
If the city wants to continue to depend on the constant and generous revenue campus students provide, they should start asking students what they want. The answer is unlikely to be anything offered in Measures L and N.
By voting No in November, students express their exasperation with empty affordable housing promises from city leaders and corporations.