Election 2014 Endorsements: Local ballot measures

Vote yes on Measure BB

Measure BB, which implements a 30-year transportation expenditure plan, aims to improve transit connections, the quality of highways and roads and the safety of bikers and pedestrians. It is a revised version of Measure B1, the 2012 ballot measure that gained 66.53 percent of the vote, failing to obtain the 66.67 percent it needed to pass.

The largest differences between Measure BB and Measure B1 is the 30-year limit on the measure and the new allocation of funds for a BART extension to Livermore. Both the 2012 measure and the new measure work to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and maintain affordable student, senior and disabled fares. In order to account for these new costs, Measure BB raises the current transportation sales tax of 0.5 percent to 1 percent.

We support Measure BB and its goals. The measure takes definite steps that ensure more widespread and better public transportation. It meets many of Alameda’s transportation needs and does so at a very reasonable cost to the voter. It also proposes a project that would provide jobs, stimulating the region’s economy. Vote yes on Measure BB.

Vote yes on Measure D

Type 2 diabetes was once more commonly known by a different name: adult-onset diabetes. That’s because Type 2 diabetes — where the body either doesn’t make enough insulin, makes insulin that does not work well or both — usually took years to develop. But today, more kids than ever have Type 2 diabetes.

This is a trend that has been exacerbated, at least in part, by the sugary drinks Measure D seeks to tax. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Imperial College of London, just one 12-ounce soda per day can raise the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 22 percent.

Measure D, if passed, will impose a $.01 distribution tax on each ounce of sugary drinks and sodas, taking a small step toward addressing the issue. It is our belief that even if the tax is not directly payable by consumers, it will discourage the distribution — and therefore the consumption — of sugary beverages. At the very least, it will make consumers more aware of the health risks associated with sugary beverages, which extend beyond just diabetes. Vote yes on Measure D.

Vote yes on Measure F

Measure F, also known as the City of Berkeley Special Parks Parcel Tax, aims to increase funding toward the 52 parks, 30 park buildings, 100 pathways and about 35,000 street trees in the city of Berkeley.

With the increasing cost of keeping Berkeley parks clean and safe, Measure F would help prevent budget deficits by adding an increase of 16.7 percent to the parks’ tax, adding up to about a $40-per-year tax increase for homeowners of the average 1,900-square-foot house. The money would go directly to ensuring that city parks, landscaping, trees and buildings are kept in good shape for community members to use.

Among many of the parks Measure F seeks to improve are the Rose Garden, Aquatic Park, tot lots, playgrounds, sports fields, basketball courts and local art exhibits, all of which could continue to deteriorate without the initiative’s additional funds. Measure F also directly addresses the rising issue of public safety and would help provide safe public spaces for healthy activities for children, recreation for all ages and community building. Vote yes on Measure F.

Vote yes on Measure O

Measure O calls for amending the recall provisions in Berkeley’s city charter to match recent changes in the law, revise wording for clarity and modify deadlines to match the state Election Code. Measure O was put on the ballot unanimously by Berkeley City Council and no argument was filed in opposition to this measure.

Though a recall election is probably rare — the last city recall election was in 1973 — it is important that the city charter set reasonable and realistic deadlines that are up to date with current state deadlines. If this measure passes, the city could merge a recall election with a primary or general election.

This measure will also modify deadlines for calling elections to meet current deadlines in the state. Examples include providing the city clerk 30 days rather than 15 days to examine petition signatures and confirm whether the petition is signed by the requisite number of vote and granting City Council and Board of Education 60 days instead of 30 days to fill vacancies after a recall election. Vote yes on Measure O.

Vote yes on Measure P

If adopted, Measure P would call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to abolish the legal concept that corporations have the same rights as individuals. The measure would add weight to a national movement, showing that the Berkeley community does not believe in corporate personhood. No argument was filed in opposition to this measure.

The 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission established that money is a form of free speech and therefore election campaign spending is expression of free speech. The inherent flaw in this ruling is that unlike free speech, money is a scarce commodity. Spending money during election campaigns is an effective way of influencing decisions of the public; candidates and propositions with more money to spend are more likely to be able to get their message across more effectively, thus swaying the public’s vote to where the money is. Vote yes on Measure P.

Vote yes on Measure Q

If passed, Measure Q would ask City Council to adopt a measure allowing Berkeley employees in both the public and private sector the opportunity to request to work part time. It also would urge City Council to write letters to legislators asking them to draft legislation to require state and federal governments to permit shorter working hours for government employees upon warranted request. No argument was filed in opposition to this measure.

Allowing more-flexible work schedules is important for families. When one partner assumes the role of a stay-at-home parent, the normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule may make sense — but with new norms comes a need for new solutions. Flexible work schedules are also good for employment, as employers would be able to hire more people to compensate for those working shorter hours.

Although Measure Q should be passed, it does not seem like a decision that should have waited for the general election. The process of passing a measure to advise City Council to adopt an ordinance and write a letter to legislators seems tedious and unnecessary. But this should not deter the measure from being passed. Vote yes on Measure Q.

Vote no on Measure R

Measure R aims to change zoning ordinance provisions for Downtown Berkeley. These include some height restrictions on new buildings, a Civic Center Historic District overlay, reduced operating hours for businesses selling alcohol and increased affordable housing requirements. While we support some of the measure’s efforts, we find Measure R to be too restrictive on new development in Downtown Berkeley.

The affordable housing and height rules limit private developers from building in the Downtown area and from increasing the availability of housing opportunities in the city of Berkeley. While supporters claim the restrictions will make Downtown more “green,” we believe focusing building density in the Downtown area, especially near mass transit hubs like BART, is better for the environment than increasing buildings elsewhere in Berkeley.

We strongly oppose deciding on a zoning ordinance at the ballot box, as it does not allow the City Council or the Zoning Adjustments Board to weigh in on the changes and it may make it difficult to adapt the zoning rules in the future.

Downtown Berkeley is in need of revitalization, but Measure R stifles development. Vote no on Measure R.

Vote yes on on Measure S

The long and contentious fight over the creation of a student-majority district will finally be settled by passing Measure S, thereby approving a set of new district lines for the city originally put forward as the Berkeley Student District Campaign map. We believe the new lines will begin to remedy the shortage of student representation in city politics.

Many current City Council members work to engage students, hosting them as interns in their offices or appointing them to city commissions. But this engagement may not be active enough, and we cannot ensure this kind of active engagement from council members will persist. Creating a student district is the best way to ensure students always have a voice in Berkeley politics.

Though the Senior Editorial Board has previously advocated the adoption of the more-inclusive United Student District Amendment map — which included residence halls east of campus and the Northside co-ops — rejecting the measure on those grounds is not appropriate. Not approving this map means that the entire redistricting process must start again — a costly and unnecessary overcorrection. The BSDC map, imperfect as it may be, is students’ best option for ensuring greater representation in the city, both now and for future generations. Vote yes on on Measure S.