While most election results have already been determined, the fate of Berkeley’s Measure T remains unclear as more ballots continue to be counted.
As of Monday, the measure — which would amend the West Berkeley Plan and Zoning Ordinance to allow development flexibility — had been defeated by 472 votes, though results on Friday showed the measure passing by only five votes.
As mail-in ballots that were dropped off at the polls and provisional ballots are still being processed, the final numbers will continue to fluctuate.
While it is unclear how many more votes still need to be processed for Berkeley, about 70 percent of the total votes of people registered in the Alameda County have been processed as of Friday, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.
“Whether it wins or loses, it sends the message that Measure T was not the right choice,” said Councilmember Jesse Arreguin. “We need to (develop West Berkeley) in a way that is more inclusive of the community and guarantees community benefits.”
Whatever the outcome turns out to be, Arreguin — who does not support the measure — said the closeness of the results is a victory for opponents who were not able to spend as many resources reaching out to voters as the Yes on T campaign.
Arreguin said he is concerned that Measure T will give landowners and developers huge benefits in developing new projects without guaranteeing any benefits to community members, such as development of parks and affordable housing.
In rebuttal, Councilmember Gordon Wozniak said he supports Measure T because of the potential increase in revenue for the city as well as the potential number of jobs it would create.
“Berkeley does not have a lot of ways to increase revenue and development of the city,” Wozniak said. “West Berkeley can develop companies that can use a labor force to create additional revenue to pay for services.”
Furthermore, Victoria Eisen, a city of Berkeley planning commissioner, said currently there are no other sources of funding to stimulate the area due to the number of vacant lots.
“Measure T could create a mechanism for these developments to provide benefits to West Berkeley that are sorely needed,” Eisen said.
For many who are personally invested in Measure T, however, the narrow margin of votes allows both sides to remain optimistic of the end result.
“I have my fingers crossed that it won’t pass,” said Steven Sullivan, president and co-founder of The Acme Bread Company, which has a location in West Berkeley. “I would much prefer that we do not pass such a hastily drafted and narrowly focused change to the West Berkeley Plan that seems to be serving us so well right now.”
Contact Andrea Guzman at [email protected].
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