Why students should support Berkeley Measure R

Annie Lu/Staff

The future of Downtown Berkeley is an issue important to everyone in our community, especially students. Many of you either live Downtown or visit it frequently to patronize its great restaurants and enjoy its entertainment and nightlife. Next Tuesday, you will be voting on a measure very important to the future of Downtown and our city: Measure R.

All of us want a Downtown that is safe, welcoming and vibrant. For the past six years, as the Downtown-area representative on Berkeley City Council, I have worked hard to realize that vision by streamlining the permit process — making it easier for new businesses to open up shop — supporting great community events such as Sunday Streets and Center Street movie nights and writing our award-winning Downtown Area Plan.

We are seeing a positive transformation Downtown, with new restaurants, businesses and housing projects. Measure R does not harm this progress but in reality enhances it by making sure Downtown is a model of sustainability and social equity and by providing funding for new public spaces, transportation programs and loans to small businesses.

Measure R builds on eight years of community process by providing the legal language to realize the vision of our Downtown Area Plan and close loopholes that have allowed corporate developers to get out of promised community and environmental benefits, including increased affordable housing, fair wages for workers and higher green-building requirements.

Measure R’s opponents have used scare tactics and misinformation to oppose the measure. They have made a number of outlandish statements, claiming the measure will drive up rents, kill Downtown’s progress and melt the polar ice caps. Don’t believe these claims.

Here is why Measure R is good for students.

Berkeley and the entire Bay Area is facing an affordable-housing crisis. Rents are skyrocketing, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a place to live. This directly impacts students who are already burdened with high student fees. With market rents in new buildings averaging from $2,000 to $3,500 a unit, many students are forced to double or triple up in order to afford housing, or they are forced to live outside Berkeley, commuting long distances in order to attend UC Berkeley.

Measure R’s opponents have wrongly claimed it will drive up rents citywide. This is based on the idea that if you build an infinite number of housing buildings, it will magically drive rents down. Trickle-down economics have failed to reduce rents in Berkeley’s hot real-estate market. In reality, rents are much higher than what most students and residents can afford.

Measure R, on the other hand, delivers affordable housing by making sure new projects build affordable units. Don’t believe opponents when they claim Measure R would rob the city of funds for affordable housing. Under Measure R, the affordable housing gets built! Measure R will make it easier for students to afford to live in Berkeley.

Measure R also won’t bring prohibition back to Berkeley and shut down all bars at midnight. Existing bars and nightclubs are not affected, and all the measure requires is that when new bars want to open up, they provide notice to neighbors and apply for an easy-to-obtain permit.

Measure R will not end Downtown development. The city’s own study clearly states that development will continue under the measure.

Measure R does not increase greenhouse gases but makes sure we get truly green development by requiring increased bicycle parking, car share, electric-vehicle charging, funding for public transit and insurance that the tallest buildings are asked to meet higher green-building standards.

Measure R was put on the ballot by almost 4,000 residents who want a greener, more vibrant Downtown. It is supported by a broad grassroots coalition including SEIU Local 1021 (one of the largest unions in Northern California), the Green Party, John George Democratic Club, Berkeley Citizens Action, Save the Berkeley Post Office and the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, among many others.

Measure R’s opponents, on the other hand, are largely funded by developers and real-estate interests trying to protect their profits. These out-of-town corporate interests have put in more than $200,000 in funding to defeat the measure. This amounts to the second-largest amount of funding ever spent in a Berkeley election, second to Big Soda’s funding against Measure D, the “soda tax.” Big Money has come to Berkeley.

Don’t let big-corporation dollars buy this election. Don’t believe the scare tactics being put forward by Measure R’s opponents. I urge you to vote yes on Measure R to help make Downtown green, equitable and vibrant and to create needed affordable housing in our city. Visit www.berkeleydowntown.com for more information about Measure R.

Jesse Arreguin represents the Downtown area on Berkeley’s City Council and served on the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee.

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  • Tired of the NIMBYs

    “Existing bars and nightclubs are not affected …” = NIMBY advantages benefit students how exactly?
    “apply for an easy-to-obtain permit.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…. LMAO. can’t breathe. stomach hurts.
    “insurance that the tallest buildings are asked to meet higher green-building standards.” = force developers to build shorter buildings = less housing stock.
    “Measure R was put on the ballot by almost 4,000 residents who want a greener, more vibrant Downtown.” = 3.5% of Berkeley’s population, representing the outdated NIMBY segment. About as moderate in view as the Tea Party.
    “Don’t let big-corporation dollars buy this election. Don’t believe the scare tactics…” Huh, that doesn’t sound hypocritical in the least …

    The choice is simple.
    Yes on R 2014 = Backward looking. NIMBY’s, stuck in the 60’s population. Extremists.
    No on R 2014 = Forward thinking. Young (even if only at heart), progressive, balanced, modern population. Reasonable.

  • ClayShentrup

    Vote NO on R.

  • Love_of_Place

    A long list of reputable, knowledgeable policy analysts from
    environmental, civil rights, affordable housing, small business advocacy
    organizations urge us to vote NO on R. I trust these organizations who
    base their positions on facts, research and experience before I would go
    the way of any individual politician.

    For a full list of endorsements:

    Greenbelt Alliance
    East Bay Housing Organizations
    Berkeley Food and Housing Project
    Alameda County Democratic Party
    Berkeley Democratic Club(oldest and largest Democratic club in Alameda County)
    League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay
    Alameda County Labor Council (representing 100,000 East Bay workers)
    Berkeley Chamber of Commerce
    Berkeley Police Association
    Downtown Berkeley Association
    Building Trades Council of Alameda County (28 affiliated unions)
    Hotel, Food Service and Gaming Workers Local 2850 (also known as Unite Here!)
    Livable Berkeley
    Berkeley Design Advocates

  • Quirkeley

    28-page Measure R is filled with so many building requirements if Berkeley was a city on Tinder it would always be swiped left. You lost us at “easy-to-obtain permit.” http://youtu.be/8e3pUuaFCdk

  • Eric Panzer

    Intent on deceiving voters with false promises, Jesse Arreguín continues to misrepresent and obfuscate the actual content of 2014 Measure R. Contrary to Arreguín’s vague promises, Measure R would block 1,300 units of potential housing in Downtown and, in the process, deprive the City of millions of dollars in taxes and fees, including up to $28 million that could go to the creation of affordable housing. This is why the Greenbelt Alliance, the League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay, the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, Robert Reich, the Alameda County Labor Council, the Alameda County Building Trades Council, the Berkeley Police Association, the Berkeley Democratic Club, Livable Berkeley, the Alameda County Democratic Party, Transform, the Downtown Berkeley Association, and the Berkeley Police Association, among many others, are all urging people to vote NO on this deceptive and counter-productive measure.

    Measure R is only good for students if you think that students benefit from a more limited housing supply. A third-party, peer-reviewed analysis of 2014 Measure R found that it would block up to 1,300 new units of housing in Downtown Berkeley. That’s housing that could serve anyone from students, to young professionals, to empty-nesters. For every ten units of housing blocked Downtown, we lose either one potential unit of affordable housing or $20,000–$28,000 in affordable housing fees, per City affordable housing requirements. This means less workforce housing and less housing for low-income households. This is just one reason why the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, whose mission is to end homelessness in our community, has endorsed NO on Measure R.

    Jesse is wrong when he says existing bars and restaurants won’t be impacted by Measure R. If Measure R passes, any bar or restaurant that serves alcohol and is open past midnight on Thursday will become a non-conforming use. This means that if they want to change anything about their operation, even the number of employees, they will have to jump over a new set of hurdles. In some areas, the midnight cutoff would apply to every day of the week, including Friday and Saturday nights. Because of its particular location in the Downtown, the Beta Lounge is one example of a bar that would potentially have to close at midnight every day of the week. Don’t believe me? Read a snippet of the measure itself:

    23E.68.060 Use Limitations
    B. Commercial uses located in the C-DMU Buffer Sub-Area, as designated in the Official Zoning Map, may operate from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. seven days per week, unless later hours are authorized by an Administrative Use Permit under Section 23E.16.010 and subject to the Board making the required finding under Section 23E.68.090.H. The Board may not extend the hours of operation later than midnight for establishments with alcohol sales or service located in the C-DMU Buffer Sub-Area.” (The Beta Lounge is located in the C-DMU Buffer Sub-Area.)

    Even those who find themselves confused by Measure R should realize that if Measure R passes, it can’t be changed in even the slightest detail except for by more citywide votes, which won’t come until 2016. This means that whatever mistakes or unintended consequences result from this Measure, we will be stuck with them for two years.

    Students shouldn’t buy the false promises put forward by proponents of 2014 Measure R. Jesse has long stood against high-density housing development and transit improvements in Berkeley: he opposed the apartment building that houses Berkeley Trader Joe’s, he opposed Bus Rapid Transit on Telegraph, and he opposed the original Measure R in 2010—a measure which he now claims to be protecting with this new, deceptive Measure R.

    If you believe, as I do, that we should be building high-density housing near transit and jobs, just vote NO on Measure R. If you think that Berkeley needs all the housing it can get, vote NO on Measure R. If you don’t want to make it harder for bars and restaurants to operate past midnight, just vote NO on Measure R.

    …but you don’t have to take my word for it. Go read all 28 pages Measure R (PDF) for yourself and decide whether you still think this is something you want set in stone for at least next two years:

    Then go read the incredible list of organizations and individuals who have endorsed NO on Measure R.

    • u sound like a whiteares lying politician.

      that ‘could go’ to affordable housing == never!

      • Sherman Boyson

        When your reply to a lengthy argument is just a personal
        attack of two lines, you don’t persuade any voter.

        • ClayShentrup

          Thank you.

  • Doesn’t $200,000 in funding put it behind both the Yes and No campaigns on Measure D, now that Bloomberg has gotten involved?