Measure R, Green Downtown initiative, fails

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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Measure R, which would have expanded and implemented more stringent regulations for Downtown buildings and created a Civic Center zoning overlay to protect historic parks and buildings, failed to pass Wednesday with 73.87 percent of Berkeley residents voting against the measure.

The overlay would have protected historic sites such as the Berkeley Main Post Office and Old City Hall and required buildings in the area to provide civic services. The measure would have also increased the environmental rating standards of new buildings and limited the operation hours of businesses selling alcohol.

“I don’t take it as loss but as a win because we have won so much just by putting (the measure) on the ballot,” said Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, an author of the measure. “(We’ve) changed the dialogue around community benefits and development in Downtown. I remain committed to moving good ideas forward.”

Because the measure failed, Downtown buildings will not have to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification of gold or platinum depending on size.

To improve housing accessibility, Measure R would have also required buildings taller than 75 feet to allocate 20 and 30 percent of the building to family-sized units and affordable units, respectively. Twenty percent of buildings under 75 feet would have had to consist of affordable housing units.

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak called the measure “misguided.”

“(Voters) have spoken, and they like what is happening,” Wozniak said. “Downtown doesn’t need any major changes. We should wait a few more years … (Any changes) should be done through the Planning Commission.”

Campus public policy professor and former U.S. secretary of labor Robert Reich, Mayor Tom Bates and the National Association of Realtors were among those who opposed the measure.

Measure supporters included Rent Stabilization Board Chair Lisa Stephens, the Save the Berkeley Post Office group and City Councilmember Max Anderson.

Contact Sierra Stalcup at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @SierraStalcup.