Looking back on state, city measures from 2016 election: How much progress has been made?

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Priyanka Karthikeyan/File

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Twenty-four city and state ballot measures passed into law during the 2016 general election. One year later, The Daily Californian takes a look at some of those that passed to see how much progress has been made on those promises.

The following is only a partially detailed list of the measures that passed in 2016. The rest of the measures are listed at the end.

City measures:

Measure E1: Funding Berkeley public schools with annual tax

Measure E1, also known as the Berkeley Public Schools Educational Excellence Act of 2016, allowed the Berkeley Unified School District to collect an annual tax of $0.37 per square foot for taxable buildings for eight years.

Natasha Beery, director of the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program, or BSEP, and community relations for BUSD, said in an email that the new fund allowed the school district to do things it couldn’t previously do with state funding alone.

BSEP is moving toward funding middle school counselors and teachers from the Response to Intervention and Literacy program as well as increasing the amount of school funding per student and instructional materials for various subjects.

“Without BSEP Measure E1 (which passed with record support last year), it’s hard to imagine what our schools would look like,” Beery said in an email. “We are very grateful for the support of Berkeley voters who recognize that this is an investment in our young people and strengthens the fabric of our community beyond measure.”

Measure Y1: Allowing residents aged 16 and 17 to vote in Berkeley School Board elections

According to Beery, BUSD is working with the League of Women Voters to encourage students to register to vote and engage in local education issues, by holding forums to help students stay informed on candidates and propositions.

Measure AA: Increasing tenant protections

Igor Tregub, member of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, said Measure AA has been very effective so far. For the most part, Tregub said, he believed the measure mostly worked to clarify how rent-controlled units should be handled.

According to Tregub, the most controversial and substantive aspect of the measure was increasing the relocation assistance fee required to be paid to tenants displaced by owner move-in evictions. Although Tregub said smaller property owners have voiced concerns that the increased fee is too steep, the measure has still accomplished its goal of protecting tenants.

“Just in the 12 months or so it has been in place, it has allowed a number of long-term community members to remain in Berkeley at a time when they were facing eviction and displacement,” Tregub said. 

Measure A1: Creating affordable housing with $580 million in bonds

“Already I have seen the incredible benefit that A1 funding has provided,” Tregub said.

Tregub said that although the funding has been a great help to housing development, it has been primarily used to close the gap in funding caused by continued federal disinvestment in lower-income housing. The way the money is being allocated to different projects in the community is one of the most “progressive and comprehensive” approaches Tregub said he has ever seen in California.

State propositions:

Prop. 63: Increasing ammunition purchase regulations

Proposition 63’s implementation prohibits the ownership of “large-capacity” ammunition magazines, or magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, and it requires certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition. The background checks for ammunition sales will go into effect July 2019 and will require ammunition dealers to verify that buyers are not “prohibited persons” under the Department of Justice, according to the proposition. Additionally, potential firearms buyers will have to apply for approval to purchase ammunition every four years.

According to Bill Durston, president of Americans Against Gun Violence, the manufacturing and sale of large-scale magazines has been prohibited since 2000. Under Proposition 63, however, those who possessed large-scale magazines from purchases made before 2000 will be required to dispose of them outside of California or destroy them.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the enforcement of this ban.

Prop. 64: Legalization of recreational marijuana

California citizens voted to legalize recreational marijuana usage for people aged 21 or older with the passage of Proposition 64. The legislation also established a 15 percent sales tax as well as a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Local governments are allowed to levy taxes in addition to these state-imposed taxes.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín said in an email that a process for recreational marijuana businesses to obtain licenses is currently in the works, with the goal of issuing licenses starting January 2018.

Since the passage of Proposition 64, Arreguín has introduced a proposal for new cannabis regulations and put the city’s Cannabis Commission in charge of developing these regulations. Arreguín also introduced legislation October to grant existing medical cannabis dispensaries temporary licenses for the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

Prop. 67: Banning single-use plastic bags

The passage of Proposition 67 upheld the California State Legislature’s vote on Senate Bill 270, which banned single-use plastic carryout bags at grocery stores, retail stores and liquor stores. Stores may provide reusable grocery bags or recycled paper bags to customers for a minimum price of 10 cents each.

Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG, said there is no statewide data available yet on the effect of the bag ban, but data showing a 24 percent decrease in San Jose’s retail plastic bag use and a 94 percent decrease of plastic bag usage in Los Angeles stores and pharmacies suggests that the ban’s effect on reducing statewide plastic usage is “probably significant,” Rusch said.

The additional Berkeley city measures that passed in the November 2016 ballot but are not detailed above are measures RR, C1, T1, U1, V1, W1, X1 and Z1. The other state propositions that passed are propositions 51, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59 and 66.

Contact Cade Johnson and Kate Tinney at [email protected].