The Berkeley ballot for this midterm election takes on some of the city’s most pertinent issues, ranging from affordable housing to infrastructure improvements. Measure Q would play a crucial role in shaping rent control in Berkeley, while Measures P and O address the city’s rampant housing crisis. And Measure R — though it touts impressive sustainability upgrades — doesn’t actually promise much at all. It’s important that voters show up to the polls prepared to make informed decisions about the future of their city.
Here’s The Daily Californian editorial board’s take on the city of Berkeley’s four proposed measures.
Measure O — YES
For years, Berkeley has been in the midst of a housing crisis that has now reached peak levels. A vote for Measure O is a highly necessary step toward addressing this emergency.
Measure O would issue $135 million in general obligation bonds to create and preserve housing for some of the city’s most vulnerable members, including low-income households, veterans, the homeless and individuals with disabilities. With a growing homeless population of nearly 1,000, Berkeley unquestionably needs the funds that the measure will provide.
While the measure does include accountability requirements and oversight of the funds, the use of general obligation bonds to fund this measure would cause an increase in property taxes for city residents. It’s important that Berkeley voters hold their elected officials accountable to using these funds for affordable housing and affordable housing only.
Passing Measure O would demonstrate the Berkeley community’s commitment to increasing affordable housing.
Vote yes on Measure O.
Measure P — YES
Every night in Berkeley, roughly 700 individuals are forced to sleep on the streets without access to a shelter. The city is unable to provide shelter for about 70 percent of its homeless population. And the homeless crisis has only grown worse over the last few years — from 2015 to 2017, homelessness in the city rose by 20 percent.
Measure P would enable the city to support this vulnerable community with the implementation of a progressive transfer tax. The measure would raise funds for general municipal purposes — including navigation centers from the Pathways Project — as well as for mental health support, rehousing and other services for the homeless.
Measure P will increase the real property transfer tax from 1.5 to 2.5 percent for property sales and property transfers over $1.5 million. The measure puts the onus of alleviating the homelessness crisis on those most capable of doing so.
Vote yes on Measure P.
Measure Q — YES
It’s time for the state of California to repeal the Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act, and state voters will have the chance to do so with state Proposition 10 on the ballot this November. But the city of Berkeley must be ready for the possibility of this repeal and ensure that it is prepared to implement rent control in a streamlined, organized manner.
Measure Q would prevent rents from being rolled back to 1980 prices and would prohibit landlords from raising the rent higher than rent prices at the time of Prop. 10’s approval. This measure is critical in ensuring that the city strikes a balance between protecting renters and incentivizing landlords — and this facet of Measure Q is contingent on the passing of Prop. 10.
The measure also includes a provision that exempts accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, from rent control. This would take effect regardless of whether Costa–Hawkins is repealed.
Vote yes on Measure Q.
Measure R — YES
Wildfires, rising temperatures and dwindling water supplies — these are all part of the growing challenge of climate change, and Berkeley must take steps to address it. If approved, Measure R would direct Mayor Jesse Arreguín to work with citizens and experts in the development of a 30-year plan, Vision 2050, to guide the implementation of climate-smart technology and infrastructure.
Measure R is largely symbolic, and passing it merely demonstrates that the Berkeley community supports increasing sustainability. Arreguín shouldn’t need to rely on voter approval to commit to making Berkeley an environmentally conscious city.
The measure encourages the mayor to push for sustainable infrastructure. But Measure T1 — passed in 2016 — approved $100 million in general obligation bonds exclusively for infrastructure improvements in the city. Where did this funding go, if not exactly to where it was allocated?
Vote yes on Measure R — but demand concrete promises and action from the city of Berkeley.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.