Encapsulating a long battle between the interests of property owners and those of the city, the city-backed Measure U1 was approved by about 75 percent of Berkeley voters Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, competing Measure DD, sponsored by landlords’ Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition, was rejected, with about 71 percent of local voters in opposition.
Though both measures propose to raise the original 1.081 percent business license tax on rental units, Measure U1 proposed a 2.88 percent tax for owners of five or more units, which would add between $2.6 million and $3.1 million annually to the city’s General Fund. Additionally, it would provide exemptions for newly developed units and nonprofit organizations that provide affordable housing.
In comparison, Measure DD suggested to increase the business license tax to 1.5 percent for owners of three or more units, which was estimated to bring in more than $1 million annually to the General Fund.
“I said ‘yes’ to increasing rental units for affordable housing,” said Berkeley City College sophomore Jazsmine Saldana, who voted for Measure U1. “I actually live in affordable housing right now. With everything going on right now, (such as) gentrification, I feel like it’s necessary to have more affordable housing.”
Measure DD received the most monetary contributions out of any other ballot measure or city candidate in the Berkeley elections this year, supported largely by property owners.
“(Measure DD) sounded like a better deal,” said UC Berkeley sophomore Herman Galvez, who voted for Measure DD. “I remember researching this one, and there were a lot of supporters for DD.”
Despite the campaign financing gap, Measure U1 was supported by numerous Berkeley groups and affordable housing organizations. City Council unanimously backed Measure U1, and campus organizations such as the ASUC and Cal Berkeley Democrats endorsed the measure as well.