2016 League Recommendations: Region, Berkeley, Albany

Vote with the League!This 2016 General Election ballot has seventeen California propositions, three regional measures, twelve Berkeley measures and ten Albany measures.  Emeryville has no ballot measures.   Share our flyers for California measures and Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville measures

League President Helen Hutchison has just alerted us to the urgency of voting on plastic bag limits: yes on 67 and No on 65. For details and action instructions go here.

For all state recommendations, go here.

For a list of all League recommendations, go here. 

Regional and local, see below.

Regional Measures:League supports all 3

COUNTY OF ALAMEDA MEASURE A1: Alameda County Affordable Housing Bond YES

BART MEASURE RR: BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief  YES
(requires 66.6667% “yes” votes to pass)

AC TRANSIT MEASURE C1:AC Transit Parcel Tax Extension YES
(requires 66.6667% “yes” votes to pass)

Berkeley Measures

MEASURE E1    BSEP Parcel Tax – YES  The Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) parcel tax has augmented state funding for Berkeley schools since 1986, and is up for renewal.  The BSEP tax revenues currently provide 20% of the funding for the Berkeley Public Schools, including funds for a third of the teachers to keep class sizes small, 100% of all school libraries, music programs, support for struggling students, educational technology and professional development, middle school counselors, family engagement, and public information and translation.  A 2/3 vote is required to pass.

MEASURE W1    Citizens’ Redistricting Commission – YES  This amendment to the City Charter removes the City Council redistricting process from the political arena by forming a Citizens’ Redistricting Commission – independent of city council – to redraw the City’s eight district lines as required following each ten-year census.  The proposed commission and process is patterned after the California state system which was championed by the LWVC.  The process is designed to be open and transparent and to allow for public comment in the drawing of district boundaries.

MEASURE T1     Infrastructure and Facilities Bond – YES  It is time we tackled our failing infrastructure.  This $100 million bond measure would be spent on needed capital improvements and major maintenance for Berkeley’s parks, facilities, streets and watershed.  Waiting will only increase costs; further, bond rates are at historic lows.  The bond monies would be spent on highest priority needs ranging from seismic improvements, parks, street paving, storm water and watershed.  The process, involving extensive public outreach, would be overseen by the Public Works Commission and Parks and Waterfront Commission. A 2/3 vote is required to pass.

MEASURE Y1     Youth Voting – YES  Research shows that bringing 16- and 17-year-olds into local voting, such as for Berkeley School Board Directors, helps to  establish a life-long habit of voting and strengthen civic identity.  Research further shows that the participation of their parents may increase 3-5%.  This local measure requires that 16- and 17-year old voting can only be implemented if it is technically feasible.  If and when this test is met, according to the Superintendent’s office the School Board has set aside funding to implement this voting program.

Rental Unit Business License Tax  Affordable housing is far too scarce in Berkeley, but how do we pay for it?  There are two competing measures on the ballot to increase the business license tax on owners of rental units to help pay for affordable housing.

MEASURE U1     City Sponsored Measure – YES  This measure would increase the business license tax on owners of five or more residential rental units from 1.08% to 2.88% on gross receipts, prohibiting pass-through to tenants and providing various exemptions. The amount of additional revenue is estimated in the range of $3 to $3.5 million annually to the general fund, with direction to the Housing Advisory Commission to recommend affordable housing projects. Proceeds would facilitate about 30-35 affordable housing units per year, depending on revenue. New construction is exempted for the first twelve years to encourage building more rental units.

MEASURE DD     Citizens’ Initiative – NO  This measure was put on the ballot by the Berkeley Rental Housing Association, a landlords’ group, as an alternative to the city sponsored measure. It proposes a business license tax of 1.5% on owners of three or more units, i.e. smaller landlords. Unlike the city sponsored measure, this measure does not exempt new construction, and the lower rate provides about $1.4 million in revenue, and thus will facilitate 10-15 affordable housing units per year.

Minimum Wage  There were two competing measures on the ballot. However, since they were placed on the ballot, a compromise measure was reached and adopted as an ordinance by the City Council. The new ordinance increases the minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2018, includes mandated paid sick leave (six days for small business employees, nine days for others), and phases out youth-in-job training. Authors of both Measure BB and Measure CC recommend a “NO” vote on both. If either Measure passes, the  one with the most votes will go into effect and overrule the City Ordinance.

MEASURE BB     City Sponsored Measure – NO  This measure is the result of nearly three years of discussion and compromise.  It increases minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019 – a pace that allows small businesses time to adjust.  It includes mandated paid sick leave (six days for all businesses), and requires service charges be distributed to those providing the service, but with no reporting requirement.  It exempts youth-in-job training programs for up to one year, giving young people a chance to build experience.

MEASURE CC     Citizens’ Initiative – NO   This well-intentioned initiative to bring Berkeley up to a living wage does not take into account all of the factors. It increases the minimum wage to $15 by 2017, with additional increases beyond that.  It requires mandated paid sick leave (six days for small business employees, nine days for others), does not have exemptions for youth-in-job training programs, and requires service charges be distributed to those providing the service, with reporting requirements. The League is neutral because the effect on Berkeley’s small businesses, although not fully known, could be severe.

MEASURE X1     Public Campaign Financing – NEUTRAL   While not critical for Berkeley, this is a “good government” proposal. With this measure, if a candidate chooses to limit all contributions to $50 or less, those contributions would be matched at 6:1 by the City, thus potentially providing funds to broaden the diversity of candidates – which is good.  However, this measure is not critical because Berkeley already limits individual contributions to candidates to $250, and prohibits donations from businesses – restrictions that are strong to limit money in politics. The League is neutral also because general fund costs, estimated at $1-2 million per election cycle, are not currently provided for in the City’s budget.

MEASURE AA     Rent Board Ordinance – NEUTRAL  This ordinance would amend the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for tenant eviction caused by owner move-in to one of her/his units. It is designed to aid tenants but burdens owners. It would increase the fee owners must pay tenants from the current $4500 provided to low-income tenants to $15,000-$20,000 for any tenant, regardless of income level. The ordinance would further prohibit owner move-in evictions of families with children during the academic year, and adds some needed clarifications.

“Housekeeping” Measures

MEASURE Z1     Low Income Housing Authorization – YES   This measure authorizes local public entities to develop, construct or acquire additional units of low-rent housing for persons of low income to meet the requirement of the California Constitution. This measure does not approve specific housing projects or commit City funds to any housing project.

MEASURE V1     Gann Appropriation Limit – YES  This measure raises the Gann Limit for City of Berkeley spending, so Berkeley can spend the tax money already approved by voters, and any new revenue approved this year. The State Constitution requires that, every four years, voter authorization is required to raise the spending limit, called the “Gann Limit”.

Albany Measures

MEASURE N1     Measure D Reform – YES  Measure D, passed in 1978, requires two off-street parking spaces for every new residence, whether the residence is a studio or 3,000 square foot house. This requirement is increasingly out of step with decreasing car ownership rates, and unnecessarily limits flexibility for different types of housing. Passage of the measure would allow the City Council to alter parking requirements following the usual public process for changing the Zoning Code, as is the case in most other cities.

MEASURE O1     Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages – YES   Scientific consensus agrees that current rates of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption are at least partially responsible for incidence of various health conditions, such as diabetes. Passage of this measure would add a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in the same manner as Berkeley’s “soda tax,” with the exception that in lieu of a panel to advise the Council how to spend the revenue to improve public health, three existing Albany Commissions will provide this advice. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

MEASURE P1     Property Tax for Sidewalks – YES  This measure provides revenue to repair Albany’s sidewalks so they are safe. Even though sidewalks are public infrastructure, currently the adjacent private property owner is responsible for maintenance. Some owners do and some do not, resulting in irregular maintenance and safety hazards. This measure would give the maintenance responsibility to the City, paid for by an annual tax of about $15 per apartment or condominium and $38 per house, with exemptions for low-income home owners and a rebate for low-income home renters.

The League has no recommendation on MEASURE Q1 Police and Fire Fighter Pension Board, MEASURE R1 Civil Service Board, MEASURE S1 School Board Term Limits,

FOR STATE BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS CLICK HERE

For downloadable versions of local and state recommendations click here.

 

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