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12 Berkeley ballot measures for November 2016 election

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Measure T1: Funding infrastructure repairs with an $100 million bond

The measure would allow Berkeley to issue a $100 million bond funding infrastructure and facility repair projects, such as city parks, streets and community centers. It would set a tax of about $21 per $100,000 of a resident’s assessed house value, with the bonds lasting 40 years.

A city manager report determined more than $357 million is needed to fund neglected capital improvement projects and deferred maintenance in Berkeley, beyond available city funds.

Critics note that the measure does not list specific projects the bond money would fund. Funded projects will be determined through citizen input if voters approve the measure.

Similar bond measures have been passed by Berkeley residents. Passed in 2012, Measure M approved a $30 million bond to fund street and water works improvements. In 2014, voters passed Measure F, which increased a parcel tax to fund park maintenance and restoration. City Council placed the measure on the ballot unanimously.

Measure U1 and Measure DD: Landlord tax hikes at different rates to fund housing

Measure U1 and Measure DD both aim to create affordable housing for the city, but with different tax hikes and exemptions for landlords in Berkeley.

Measure U1 would increase the rental unit business tax from 1.081 percent to 2.88 percent for owners of five or more units. Measure DD would increase the same tax for Berkeley landlords from 1.081 percent to 1.5 percent for owners of three or more units.

Unanimously approved by Berkeley City Council, Measure U1 would raise roughly between $2.63 million and $3.1 million annually. Sponsored by the political action committee of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, Measure DD would between $1.13 and $1.15 million annually.

Measure U1 would would not raise the tax for many low-income units, or any new construction where a tenant has not lived for at least 12 years. Proponents of Measure U1 argue that the exemption is an effort to encourage housing construction, while opponents argue that the tax gives developers a tax break while burdening smaller landlords.  

The competing proposals are sizing up to become one of the most hard-fought ballot measure battles this year, with thousands of dollars being poured into each campaign. The Measure U1 campaign has raised more than $43,000, while the Measure DD campaign has spent almost $500,000 this year.

Measure V1: Authorizing the city to spend collected tax revenue

A “yes” vote for Measure V1 grants the city the ability to spend the revenue from various city taxes previously approved by voters or City Council.

Under California law, city’s spending is limited to appropriating the amount of taxes adjusted for inflation the city spent in the 1986-1987 fiscal year. The measure does not raise or create new taxes.

If Measure V1 fails, the city will lose millions of dollars in already approved tax revenue and will drastically cut back public services, according to the official argument in favor of the measure signed by Mayor Tom Bates, among others. City Council placed the measure on the ballot.

Measure W1: Creating a citizen commission for redistricting.

Measure W1 would establish the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, responsible for redrawing city district lines every 10 years.

The task currently lies with Berkeley City Council — an arrangement some, such as Mayor Tom Bates, have criticized as a conflict of interest because council members often run as incumbents within the districts they redraw.

The new commission would comprise 13 members who are registered city voters, although certain membership exclusions apply, such as a current or former membership on City Council. Commission members, who must live in each of the eight districts, would be selected by the city clerk through an application process every 10 years.

City Council placed the measure on the ballot.

Measure X1: Establishing a public campaign financing program

By instituting a city Fair Elections Fund used to match small campaign donations 6-to-1, Measure X1 aims to level the playing field for city government candidates who may otherwise lack the means to raise substantial campaign funding.

It would allow Berkeley City Council and mayoral candidates to receive matched city funding for each Berkeley residents’ campaign donation of $50 or less, capped at $40,000 total per City Council candidate and $120,000 total per mayoral candidate.

The city attorney estimates that City Council would need to allocate about $500,000 per year from the city’s General Fund to the Fair Elections Fund.

City Council placed the measure on the ballot. Some have criticized the measure for not being worth the cost in light of other necessary capital improvement projects. In addition, Berkeley caps direct campaign contributions to $250 per individual or political action committee.

Measure Y1: Lowering the voting age for school board directors

If approved, Measure Y1 would allow Berkeley City Council to draft an ordinance authorizing anyone older than 16 to vote in the Berkeley Unified School District Board of Directors election.

The measure stipulates that the City Council must prohibit the use of city funds to pay any costs related to youth voting.

The measure does not include a specific plan for how the youth voting process for BUSD board members would be established. City Council unanimously placed the measure on the ballot.

Measure Z1: Granting public entities ability to develop affordable housing

Measure Z1 would give any public entity the ability to create 500 affordable units in Berkeley for low-income residents.

Under California law, voters are required to grant prior approval before any federal, state or local public entity can develop, construct or acquire certain below market rate housing in every city.

In the past, Berkeley voters approved creating 200 low-income units in 1977, 300 in 1981, and 500 in 2000. Since 2000, 421 low-income units have been created.

The measure does not approve any specific housing project and was placed on the ballot by a unanimous Berkeley City Council.

Measure AA: Strengthening tenant protections

A “yes” vote for Measure AA would alter city eviction policy to require a minimum $15,000 fee paid by landlords to tenants they have evicted for an owner move-in.

In such cases, landlords would also have to pay an additional $5,000 — capped at $20,000 — to low-income, disabled or elderly tenants; families with minor children; and tenancies that began prior to 1999.

Currently, city laws do not mandate owners to provide a relocation assistance payment to evicted tenants, the only exception being low-income tenants who are required to receive $4,500.

Other amendments to city eviction laws include prohibiting owner move-in evictions of families with school-age children during the school year, among other clarifications. Measure AA was placed on the ballot by the Rent Stabilization Board and a unanimous City Council.

Measure BB and Measure CC: Raising the city minimum wage at different rates

City-backed Measure BB and union-backed Measure CC both increase the minimum wage to $15. But Measure BB would raise it to $15 by 2019, while Measure CC would raise it to $15 by 2017.

The conflicting measures were placed on the ballot at a City Council meeting in June. During the summer, city officials and union members negotiated to come to a compromise, and in August, City Council unanimously approved raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2018.

Measure BB and Measure CC are now running a joint “no-no” campaign in an effort to maintain the agreed upon minimum wage rate.

Measure E1: Extending a special parcel tax to fund Berkeley public schools

If passed, Measure E1 would replace an expiring tax with a 37-cent-per-square-foot parcel tax on taxable buildings to improve the quality of Berkeley Unified School District class instruction, supplementary education programs such as performing arts and student support such as counseling.

The special tax would take effect in July and last eight years. The tax rate would increase annually from the rate levied in the previous tax year by a cost-of-living adjustment equal to the annual average percentage change in the Bay Area Consumer Price Index.

In the 2017-18 tax year alone, the special tax is expected to raise $28 million for schools in the district.

In 2006, voters passed a similar proposal Measure A, which currently accounts for about 20 percent — or $25 million — of the district’s annual budget. The school district placed the measure on the ballot.

Contact Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks and Andrea Platten at [email protected].

NOVEMBER 01, 2016