Local voters weighed in on a number of local and regional measures on November 8, giving a resounding “yes” to education, more open campaigns, improving infrastructure, and affordable housing.
Education: The Berkeley Schools Excellence Program parcel tax (Measure E1) has augmented state funding for Berkeley schools since 1986, and was renewed. The BSEP tax revenues currently provide 20% of the funding for the Berkeley Public Schools helping Berkeley students thrive.
Open Campaigns: Broadening citizen participation in elections, three measures passed in Berkeley. Measure W1 sanctioned formation of a citizens’ redistricting commission, removing the City Council redistricting process from the political arena. Measure X1 provides for public funding of elections for mayor and city council, with the intent to broaden opportunities for candidates and better engage voters. Measure Y1 will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote for School Board if it proves feasible with election requirements.
Infrastructure: The need to maintain or improve our infrastructure has been simmering for a long time, and voters recognized we must move forward. A bond measure to improve BART, and a parcel tax extension to maintain AC Transit both passed. Measure T1, a $100 million bond measure to improve infrastructure, facilities and parks also passed in Berkeley. Measure P1 providing property tax money for sidewalk maintenance passed in Albany.
Affordable Housing: The crisis of affordable housing is across the Bay Area. Alameda County voters decided to do something about it. Measure A1, a $580 million bond measure to provide affordable housing, will be implemented across the entire county. Berkeley’s Measure U1 also passed. Since it received more votes than the competing Measure DD, there will be an increase in business license tax on landlords of 5 or more units with the intent to build more affordable housing. Tangentially, Measure AA, expands Berkeley tenants benefits, and Measure N1, modifies an earlier measure in Albany to allow parking requirements to be decided in a more flexible way.
Finally, Albany, Oakland and San Francisco all passed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, following Berkeley’s trail breaking measure of the 2014 election.
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