Latest News: Climate Expert Describes Measure R’s Many Flaws

FAQ

Q: How can I know which side to believe?

Q: What does Measure R actually say?

Q: I heard that Measure R will save the Post Office. Isn’t that right?

Q: How is this Measure R linked to the old Measure R of 2010?

Q: Would Measure R provide more community benefits than the current Downtown Plan?

Q: Isn’t requiring LEED Platinum a good thing?

Q. Who’s behind the new Measure R?

Q. How is Measure R a form of “greenwashing”?

Q: How can I know which side to believe?

Don’t take just our word for it.

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Q: What does Measure R actually say? Can’t I just read it and make up my own mind?

You can! In fact, we’d love for every voter to read it carefully. to see it.

BUT … Measure R is a confusing, legally flawed 28-page mishmash of additions and deletions to the existing Downtown zoning codes. It takes considerable time and research to decipher and understand what it would do.

If you don’t have time to study it, vote NO . Never adopt something you don’t understand.

And if you do take time to read it and discover what it would do, we’re confident that you’ll certainly want to vote NO .

Meanwhile, you can see a short list of topics covered by the measure in the official Ballot Question .

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Q: I heard that Measure R will save the Post Office. Isn’t that right?

A small part of the initiative applies to the Main Post Office (and other historic Downtown buildings), but that section has already been approved by the City Council. The initiative is unnecessary and redundant with regard to the Post Office.

Measure R was placed on the ballot by signature gatherers who pitched it as a “Save the Post Office” initiative. But in fact, the section about the Post Office and other historic buildings is a small part of Measure R’s massive set of stringent new requirements and prohibitive fees that would affect every kind of development throughout the Downtown.

Moreover, Measure R’s slogan to “save” the Post Office is deceptive. The Post Office building is already protected as a historic landmark, and Measure R would not require the U.S. Postal Service to maintain operations in the building. Measure R would only require that the building be used for a “civic” purpose, which the City Council has already acted to do. The Council’s ordinance is an exact replica of Measure R’s provisions with regard to the Post Office and other Downtown historic buildings.

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Q: How is this Measure R linked to the old Measure R of 2010 and the Downtown Plan, and why all the hullabaloo about them?

The Measure R of 2010 was passed with 64% voter approval in 2010 to “revitalize the Downtown” and create a green city core with transit-oriented housing. It was an advisory measure whose policies were later implemented into the zoning code by the Downtown Area Plan adopted by the City Council in 2012.

Backers of the new Measure R falsely claim that the Downtown Plan has failed to deliver the promises of the 2010 Measure R. In fact, Berkeley’s Downtown has been undergoing a remarkable revitalization under the Downtown Plan, exactly as envisioned in Measure R of 2010, and several projects that include significant additions to transit-oriented housing have recently been approved with several others in the pipeline.

See the next question, “Would Measure R provide more community benefits than the current Downtown Plan?”

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Q: Would Measure R provide more community benefits than the current Downtown Plan?

The current Downtown Plan’s community benefits constitute one of the most progressive and environmentally responsive set of development standards in the nation. These include LEED Gold standards, transit passes for every household and employee, car-sharing pods and a range of other community benefits that can be required in flexible combinations by city officials according to the unique circumstances of each project.

The Downtown Plan has been so successful in fact that this year it won a prestigious national honor, the “Achievement Award for a Best Practice” from the American Planning Association . A recent comparison of Bay Area cities found that Berkeley stands head and shoulders above the others in the number and range of environmental standards and community benefits required for new developments.

The 2014 Measure R by contrast would impose a uniform set of prohibitive fees and requirements that would kill future projects and stymie sustainable development and economic revitalization – thus eliminating the benefits that the original Measure R was designed to provide, including affordable housing, concentration of residents near mass transit hubs and reduction of greenhouse gases.

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Q: Isn’t requiring LEED Platinum a good thing?

The new Measure R would require the most significant future Downtown housing projects – those over 75 feet – to meet LEED Platinum standards, the highest green building rating, which would be a jump from the current LEED Gold requirement.

LEED Platinum would be terrific if it were possible, but the LEED Platinum requirement, along with the initiative’s many additional fees and other strict requirements, would impose such a large burden on developers that the projects would not be feasible, as the city found in its study of the initiative’s impacts .

Even the LEED Platinum requirement alone could prove insurmountable in practice. There are a number of LEED Platinum structures around the world – airport terminals, museums, renovated older buildings, etc. – but our search so far has not found a single LEED Platinum building in the United States of the type that would be covered by the initiative: new construction of 6-16 stories that is mostly residential and is not underwritten by public subsidy. (If you find one, let us know!)

Berkeley has only one LEED Platinum building that was new construction: the David Brower Center. But it is a 4-story office building and conference center whose financing was made possible by having the land donated by the City as well as by millions of dollars in donations and tax credits.

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Q. Who’s behind the new Measure R?

The initiative was launched by Jesse Arreguin, a member of the City Council. He wrote this new Measure R with two North Berkeley residents, Sophie Hahn (Councilmember Kriss Worthington’s appointee to the Zoning Adjustments Board) and Austene Hall (Councilmember Arreguin’s appointee to the Landmarks Preservation Commission).

Arreguin is campaigning as a champion of the old Measure R , passed by 64% of Berkeley voters in 2010 to “revitalize the Downtown” and establish a green city core with transit-oriented housing. But Arreguin campaigned against the old Measure R when it was on the ballot and was the top signer of the ballot argument against that Measure R. (See earlier question, “How is this Measure R linked to the old Measure R of 2010 and the Downtown Plan, and why all the hullabaloo about them?”)

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Q. How is Measure R a form of “greenwashing”?

The backers of Measure R refer to it – not by its official title – but by their campaign slogan, "Berkeley's Green Downtown & Public Commons Initiative." But since this anti-growth initiative will actually undermine Berkeley's green policies in protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gases, the initiative's slogan represents a well-known type of political subterfuge called "greenwashing," which is disinformation designed to project an environmentally friendly public image.

The measure’s official title, assigned by the City Attorney to appear on the ballot, is "Initiative Ordinance Amending Downtown Zoning Provisions and Creating Civic Center Historic District Overlay Zone." The abbreviated title used by the City Clerk and other city officials is simply the "Downtown Initiative."

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