Despite Defeat, Measure R’s Sponsor Still Spins Distortions

It’s probably no surprise that post-election comments by Measure R sponsor Jesse Arreguin reflect the pattern of misinformation that characterized the Measure R campaign. No on R cropped

Arreguin told Berkeleyside that a chief reason for Measure R’s defeat was the larger amount of campaign spending by the No on R side. It’s true that money influences votes in many places, but it doesn’t swing elections among Berkeley’s highly educated and well-informed voters. Look at what happened to the sugar tax (Measure D) in this election. Big Soda dumped more than $2 million to defeat it, dwarfing Yes on D spending and far outstripping any campaign spending in Berkeley history. Yet, the sugar tax was approved by three out of four Berkeley voters, the same ratio that voted down Measure R.

Arreguin neglected to mention the real reasons that Measure R lost, including opposition by an extraordinarily diverse coalition of well-respected environmental, labor, business, law enforcement and civic groups, plus the preponderance of Berkeley’s elected officials and community leaders. See the list on our Endorsements page .

All of the “No on R” groups recognized Measure R’s hidden anti-growth agenda with its prohibitive restrictions and fees on new development that would have sabotaged the revitalization of Berkeley’s Downtown, blocked badly needed affordable housing and reversed our progress in combatting climate change.

Another example of Arreguin’s deceptive post-election half-truths is his claim that Measure R was responsible for the City Council’s recent action to save the historic Berkeley Post Office. If Measure R hadn’t been on the ballot, he said, the Council would not have voted this past summer to adopt a Civic Center “Overlay” – which blocks commercial development of the Post Office and other historic Downtown buildings. It’s true that the Overlay wording adopted by the Council is taken from the Overlay portion of Measure R since it was the one section of Measure R’s scattershot provisions that the Council agreed with. But long before Measure R was cooked up, the City Council – as well as Berkeley’s elected leaders in Sacramento and Washington, Loni Hancock, Nancy Skinner and Barbara Lee – had been taking numerous steps to save the Post Office. The Council adopted a resolution opposing the sale of the Post Office in March of 2013, and the City Attorney – acting on Council authorization not connected to Measure R – filed suit against the U.S. Postal Service on the day after this past election to block the planned sale of the Post Office.

In fact, Measure R began with deception related to the Post Office. It was placed on the ballot by signature gatherers who pitched it as a “Save the Post Office” initiative. But the section about the Post Office and other historic buildings was a small part of Measure R’s massive set of stringent new requirements and fees that would affect every kind of development throughout the Downtown. The measure’s main thrust wasn’t mentioned to those who signed the initiative petition.

Arreguin also claims that Measure R deserves credit for the recent news that the developer of the proposed 302-unit Residences at Berkeley Plaza will use 100% union labor . It’s certainly true that Measure R created a situation where labor and other groups became strong allies who saw the devastating consequences that the draconian measure would bring, so an ensuing labor-developer agreement is no surprise. But to say that Measure R deserves credit for it would be like England claiming credit for the Statue of Liberty. England could argue that if it had not imposed draconian restrictions on the American colonists, there would have been no Revolutionary War, in which France became America’s ally and later presented America with the Statue of Liberty in commemoration of their alliance and the liberty achieved by American independence.

We are pleased that Berkeley voters saw through the disinformation disseminated by Measure R, which falsely portrayed itself as the “Green Downtown Initiative.” It was written by Arreguin and two other self-appointed individuals – Sophie Hahn and Austene Hall – without community participation or public input. The city would have suffered a grievous injury if the measure had succeeded in overturning our award-winning and successful Downtown Plan, which won 64% voter approval in 2010 and which was shaped through extensive community participation and more than 200 public meetings.

Measure R does deserve credit for one thing – it reminded us to beware of politicians offering Trojan horses, especially those painted green.


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We offer sincere thanks to the voters who saw through the deceptions and half-truths of Measure R and sent the ill-conceived initiative down to a resounding defeat. With all precincts reporting in preliminary returns posted the morning after the election, Measure R lost with 74% voting no.

We also want to thank all the people who actively supported the campaign, including those who  walked door to door, displayed yard signs and helped inform the electorate in many other ways.

“This is a landmark victory for Berkeley,” said Mayor Tom Bates. “It saves our green Downtown Plan that voters approved in 2010 and allows us to move forward with a more vibrant, cleaner and safer heart of the city.”

Measure R deceptively promised to extract more “community benefits” from developers and to “save the Berkeley Post Office.” But according to the City study of the measure, to news media and to many independent organizations, Measure R’s prohibitive fees and requirements would have killed the high-impact housing projects planned for the Downtown, thus exacerbating our critical housing shortage and causing more greenhouse gas emissions by displacing new housing away from mass transit.

And Measure R’s provisions for the Post Office would have been redundant since the City Council has already adopted the exact Post Office-related provisions contained in Measure R.

Moreover, Berkeley’s current Downtown Plan already provides one of the nation’s most comprehensive sets of required community benefits and environmentally friendly building standards for new developments. Ironically, our Downtown Plan, developed over six years of community participation and more than 200 public meetings, would have been overturned by Measure R, which was drafted by City Council member Jesse Arreguin and two other self-appointed individuals without community input or public review.

“I want to express my deep appreciation to the many community leaders and the extraordinary coalition of environmental, labor, business, affordable housing and civic groups who have worked tirelessly to revitalize our Downtown and who opposed Measure R,” Bates said. “I look forward to continuing our work together for a genuinely progressive future for Berkeley.”

See the full No-on-R coalition on our Endorsements page , and get the facts on why Measure R would have been disastrous at our website at .

100% Union Labor for Largest Downtown Housing Project – Another Measure R Claim Proved False

One of the false claims of Measure R – that our current Downtown Plan doesn’t deliver community benefits from developers – was again disproved by this week’s news that the proposed 302-unit Residences at Berkeley Plaza will be built by 100% union labor. Berkeley Plaza main photo

Measure R backers deceptively claim that our current Downtown Plan doesn’t provide the community benefits – such as green building standards, affordable housing and prevailing wages for workers – that were promised to the voters when they passed our green Downtown plan in 2010. Measure R will be better for labor, the environment and Downtown in general, according to Measure R supporters.

But Measure R’s claims are not true. They disguise the anti-growth agenda behind Measure R, whose prohibitive fees and restrictions would make new housing and other building projects infeasible, as many independent analyses have found. (See the list on the right side of our Why Vote No page .)

At the same time, the current Downtown Plan is delivering the benefits promised to voters.

This past week, the developers of the largest project to move forward under the Downtown Plan – the 180-foot-tall Residences at Berkeley Plaza announced they have signed a labor agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County for 100% union labor on the project. This is in addition to the other community benefits of the project, including LEED Gold green building standards, publicly accessible open space, free bus passes for residents and employees, and more.

If Measure R passes with its draconian restrictions and costs, however, the project would not be feasible and would not move forward, according to the developers. Berkeley Plaza 2nd photo

If Measure R were a better deal for labor, then why are unions almost unanimously opposed to it? Those endorsing “No on R” include the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County, which represents 28 unions.

The Council’s president, Rob Stoker, called Measure R “grossly misleading” in a published statement and said that union leaders were misled by Measure R’s chief sponsor, Councilmember Jesse Arreguin.

Other union organizations opposed to Measure R include the chief one in the East Bay, the Alameda County Labor Council (representing 100,000 workers), as well as Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 and others.

If Measure R were better for the environment, why is it opposed by leading environmental groups such as the Greenbelt Alliance , Transform and League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay ?

If Measure R were better for affordable housing, why is it opposed by the East Bay’s foremost affordable housing coalition, East Bay Housing Organizations ?

And if Measure R were better for Downtown, why is it opposed the chief group representing the Downtown, the Downtown Berkeley Association , as well as by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and the Berkeley Police Association ?

Don’t be fooled. Measure R was born in deception. It was placed on the ballot by signature-gatherers who misleadingly touted it as a “Save the Post Office” initiative. (See Question #3 on our FAQ, “ I heard that Measure R will save the Post Office. Isn’t that right? ”)

You can see the unusually large and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals opposing Measure R on our Endorsements page .

Get the facts on Measure R and the danger it poses to Berkeley’s future in our FAQ and Why Vote No page .