It’s election season: ballot measures of Berkeley part 2

Last time on the Clog’s special election coverage — just let us feel special, OK? — we talked about three major ballot measures. See that post here, and read on for the breakdown of the rest of the measures.

Measure S

What does it say?

redistricting mapMeasure S calls for Berkeley voters to approve or deny the suggested Berkeley Student District Campaign, or BSDC, redistricting map. What’s redistricting? It’s that thing you learned in Advanced Placement U.S. History and never thought about again. Like Panem in “The Hunger Games,” Berkeley is separated into districts. Although we don’t think the Berkeley City Council will ever make you fight to the death against your neighbors, your district determines which politicians represent you. Redistricting is the practice of redrawing these district lines in order to represent new census data. Berkeley’s city charter states that redistricting has to happen every 10 years, because that’s when the decennial census — the official count of the population — comes out.

Break it down.

The pro side wants you to approve the map because the City Council has been working on redistricting for three years. They argue that spending more time redistricting would cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. Further, they argue, the council included the Berkeley citizens in their redistricting process. It looked at seven maps drawn by Berkeley residents and, in the end, adopted the BDSC map as its final plan. It says that redistricting plan it has adopted meets all the federal requirements for redistricting and that it will keep the districts “fair.”

The con side is talking about your favorite word from APUSH — gerrymandering. They argue that the council “intentionally” created some districts dominated by fraternities, ensuring that minorities and low-income students would not get as much of a say. Remember the maps that the pro side mentions? The con side takes issue with this, too — they say that only two maps were submitted by citizens who weren’t connected to the council. And remember the three years the council spent on redistricting? The con side says this was intentional — they stalled so that incumbents would be protected in the 2012 elections. Shots fired. The opponents’ solution? It varies. Opponents of Measure S are united in their desire to reject the BSDC map. Some call for an independent redistricting process — though that wouldn’t be cemented by a “no” on Measure S. Plus, even some proponents of Measure S would eventually like to see an independent redistricting process created. Others hope to adopt the United Student District Amendment Map, which would include residence halls and Northside coops in District 7.

Tl;dr

Is the redistricting process fair, or does it play favorites? It’s up to you to accept the plan or reject it.

Measure R

What does it say?

This measure affects zoning ordinances in Downtown Berkeley. It proposes a grab bag of ordinance fixes, but here are some of them for your reading pleasure: The measure would place restrictions on building heights in certain areas Downtown, reduce the hours during which businesses can sell alcohol, amend LEED requirements and call for new bike parking. Don’t tune out — this controversial measure has huge practical implications.

Break it down.

The pro side is saying that passing the measure would help save historic buildings such as the post office and the Civic Center from new development. It would make sure that development of Downtown Berkeley proceeds according to “Berkeley’s values.” Further, the proponents argues, the measure would keep Downtown Berkeley environmentally friendly — they say the measure works with a “Green Vision” plan that voters passed in 2010. The con side doesn’t agree — obviously.

The opponents say most everyone who originally supported the “Green Vision” doesn’t support Measure R. What gives? They say Measure R would actually stop the progress Berkeley is making toward an environmentally friendly Downtown area and even make Berkeley more car dependent. They also claim it would get rid of housing that people really need and make Berkeley a more expensive place to live. Further, they say the historic post office Measure R is claiming to protect has already been saved by another piece of legislation. Uh-oh.

Tl;dr

Will Measure R help save both historic buildings and the environment, or will it make Berkeley housing prices rise and stall environmental progress?

Measure O

What does it say?

Measure O proposes an amendment to Section 7 of the Berkeley City Charter. You don’t have the charter memorized? We’ll explain. Section 7 deals with the recalling of officials — in a recall election, voters can vote an elected official out before his or her term is up. The proposed amendment would take out provisions in this section that conflict with state law and make some of the language in the section clearer, among other things.

Break it down.

The pro side mentions that the last time the recall provisions in the charter were modified was in 1974. Since that time, they argue, many provisions mentioned in the charter have become obsolete. Further, some of the language in the charter conflicts with state law. Recall elections aren’t very common, they argue, but it’s important that when they do happen, we have procedures that agree with state law.

The con side says — well, nothing. No one filed an opposing argument. It’s one less thing you have to worry about!

Tl;dr

A vote for Measure O would change the language surrounding Berkeley recall elections; a vote against it would keep procedures the same.

Measure Q

What does it say?

Measure Q asks you to vote on whether the people of Berkeley (that’s you!) should officially advise the Berkeley City Council to pass an ordinance letting people who work in Berkeley request to work part-time. Remember, a “yes” vote on Measure Q would not be a vote directly for the ordinance — it would be a vote to advise the City Council to pass the ordinance. If passed, Measure Q would also tell the city of Berkeley to send letters to state and federal elected officials asking them to give government employees the right to ask for shorter hours as well.

Break it down.

The pro side says that flexibility in working hours is good for families, employment, and the environment. It’s good for families, they argue, because 90 percent of families state that they have trouble balancing family life and work. It’s good for employment because businesses will have to hire more than one person if the first chooses to work less hours. It’s good for the environment because, they say, people who work less consume less. The pro side also wants to point out that they’re not just advocating for part-time work — they’re advocating for flexibility. This means flexibility in the number of hours and also in the location and times worked.

We at the Clog have more good news for you; no one filed an official opposing argument.

Tl;dr

Should Berkeley employees be allowed to request part-time work? If you just said “yes” out loud to yourself, vote “yes” on Measure Q.