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 .

Daily Cal Endorses “No on R”

The Daily Californian , the UC Berkeley student paper, is the latest of the many local institutions urging voters to say NO to Measure R.

“Measure R stifles development,” the Daily Cal wrote in its No-on-R endorsement published today (Oct. 31).

“Vote no on Measure R,” the paper said. You can see the paper’s full statement by clicking here .

No newspapers or major local institutions have endorsed R, which would impose prohibitive fees and restrictions on new housing and other building projects in Berkeley’s Downtown.

The East Bay Express also endorsed “No on R,” while a lead front-page story in the San Francisco Chronicle by the paper’s urban planning writer, John King, exposed the real intent of Measure R – to block new housing and office buildings.

Also endorsing “No on R” this week was the East Bay’s foremost affordable housing coalition, East Bay Housing Organizations , following many leading environmental, labor, business, professional, law enforcement and civic groups, not to mention the preponderance of Berkeley’s elected officials and community leaders, who oppose Measure R.

For the full list of the extraordinarily diverse coalition opposed to R, please see 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 .

More Experts Warn Against Measure R on Berkeleyside

Two of the most deeply informed experts on combining community benefits with new housing projects in Berkeley’s Downtown have issued warnings against the disastrous consequences of Measure R.

Both spoke out in Berkeleyside op-ed columns against the measure and the misinformation spread by its backers.

Matthew Taecker – the former City of Berkeley Principal Planner who guided development of the award-winning Downtown Plan, which would be overturned by Measure R – writes, “Don’t let a small minority of Measure R supporters outflank six years of public process by misrepresenting what’s in the measure and what its consequences would be.”

The Downtown Plan was the product of six years of community input, including more than 200 public meetings. It has helped usher in a remarkable revitalization, giving us a more vibrant, greener and safer heart of the city. Measure R was written by three self-appointed individuals without community input or public review.

“Berkeley has invested hugely in a new Downtown Area Plan and we are just beginning see its positive effects,” Taecker says. See his full column by clicking here .

Also exposing the dangers of Measure R is Anthony Bruzzone , President of Berkeley Design Advocates, an organization of Berkeley design professionals that supports sound urban design and environmental planning.

“While promoted as a ‘soak-the-evil-developers’ proposal, in reality Measure R is a thinly disguised attempt to freeze Berkeley in the past and wall off a potentially larger and more vibrant downtown to new residents,” Bruzzone writes.

“Measure R is a lie – it will not create ‘community benefits,’ because nothing of real consequence would be built,” Bruzzone writes. “Instead Measure R will kill our emerging downtown renaissance.”

Read his op-ed by clicking here .

Taecker and Bruzzone’s analyses reflect those of the vast majority of community leaders as well as local environmental, labor, business, housing, law enforcement and civic organizations that have analyzed Measure R’s convoluted, poorly drafted 28 pages of zoning restrictions.

For other recent news about the voices raised against Measure R, see our News page .

You can see the full list of the exceptionally broad coalition that opposes Measure R on our Endorsements page by clicking here .

And you can get the facts on Measure R and the danger it poses to Berkeley’s future in our FAQ and Why Vote Note page .

East Bay’s Leading Affordable Housing Coalition Announces “No on R” Endorsement

The East Bay’s foremost affordable housing advocacy coalition has come out strongly against Measure R, the ill-conceived attempt on the Berkeley ballot to rezone Berkeley’s Downtown.

“Berkeley’s Measure R is not the answer,” says the 30-year-old non-profit East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO). “…The bottom line is that Measure R is likely to make it even more difficult to expand affordable housing in Berkeley.”

The coalition’s “No on R” endorsement follows those of leading environmental, labor, business and civic groups, not to mention the preponderance of Berkeley’s elected officials and community leaders. These include

  • Greenbelt Alliance
  • Alameda County Central Committee (representing 100,000 East Bay workers)
  • Alameda County Democratic Party
  • League of Conservation Voters East Bay
  • Berkeley Police Association
  • Berkeley Chamber of Commerce
  • Downtown Berkeley Association
  • Berkeley Democratic Club (largest and oldest in East Bay) Alameda County Building Trades Council (28 affiliated unions)
  • State Sen. Loni Hancock
  • Assembly Member Nancy Skinner
  • Mayor Tom Bates and 5 other City Council members
  • …And many others (see the full list at noonmeasurer.org/endorse )

Measure R’s backers deceptively claim the measure will add affordable housing. But Measure R’s 28 pages of prohibitive restrictions and fees would kill new housing, including affordable housing. The City study of the Measure R concluded that it would reduce Downtown housing capacity by 1,300 units.

Complementing the East Bay Housing Organizations’ statement is the from the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH) saying that “none of the initiative’s promises are likely to come to fruition and all of the community benefits that would have been received through the city’s current policies would be lost as well.”

This loss of housing near BART also would damage the environment and sabotage Berkeley’s efforts to combat global warming. Less transit-oriented housing means more auto commuting, pollution and greenhouse gases.

The East Bay Housing Organizations’ full statement is available on the coalition’s website at .

Get the facts on Measure R and the danger it poses to Berkeley’s future in our FAQ and Why Vote Note page .

Union Deceived by “Grossly Misleading” Measure R, Labor Leader Says

Union Deceived by “Grossly Misleading” Measure R, Labor Leader Says

Measure R sponsor Jesse Arreguin misled union members, and the Measure R campaign is engaged in a “grossly misleading” claim of union support, according to a leader of the Alameda County Building Trades Council and the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union.

“Measure R isn’t what Arreguin claimed it would be,” said Rob Stoker, president of the Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council (representing 28 affiliated unions) and business representative for the Sheet Metal Workers Local 104.

Arreguin promised Stoker that Measure R would benefit labor, Stoker said in a letter to the editor published Oct. 22 in the Berkeley Voice. (The letter is published also in other member papers of the Bay Area News Group, which includes the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News.)

“What we didn’t anticipate, and were disappointed to discover, is that this Measure R includes catastrophic planning errors that would prohibit construction of the projects we would gain the most work from,” Stoker said.

“We believe Arreguin’s continued use of our name in promoting Measure R is grossly misleading and have asked him to stop doing so,” his letter said.

“It would kill a downtown revitalization guided by an AIA award-winning plan to create one of the most beautiful and green downtowns in the state.”

You can read the full letter by . (It’s the second letter on the page.)

For other examples of Measure R’s deceptive propaganda, please see our FAQ and Why Vote No page.

You can find the exceptionally broad coalition of organizations and community leaders who oppose Measure R by clicking on our Endorsements page .

Express Endorsement: No on R

The East Bay Express has joined the many knowledgeable organizations who recognize that Measure R would be bad for Berkeley. The paper’s endorsement – published today, Oct. 22 – is a resounding No on R.

“We strongly oppose Measure R,” the Express said.

“Supporters of Measure R claim that, if it passes, it will lead to a ‘greener’ downtown and will create more affordable housing,” the paper said. “But we think the opposite will happen: Berkeley’s downtown won’t become green and affordable housing won’t get built if the city sets up too many barriers to downtown development — as Measure R would do.”

See the full article by clicking here.

The Express endorsement follows the long list of environmental, labor, business, civic and professional organizations that have taken a stand against Measure R. See the extraordinarily broad coalition of groups and community leaders who oppose Measure R on our Endorsements page by clicking here .

The Express position also complements the conclusion reached in a prominent, front-page San Francisco Chronicle article that Measure R is a “disingenuous” attempt “to pull the rug out from under future projects.”

Impartial groups and individuals who’ve studied Measure R’s dense, poorly crafted 28 pages of Downtown zoning restrictions have all concluded that Measure R’s prohibitive fees and zoning restrictions would kill pending housing projects that are intended to realize Berkeley’s smart-growth policy of concentrating transit-oriented housing near the Downtown BART. The City study of the Measure R concluded that it would reduce Downtown housing capacity by 1,300 units.

As a result, Measure R means more auto commuting, pollution and greenhouse gases.

Get the facts on Measure R and the danger it poses to Berkeley’s future in our FAQ and Why Vote Note page .

Excellent Summary of Who’s Behind Measure R

Want to know who’s behind Measure R, the misguided attempt to stop new housing and office buildings in Berkeley’s Downtown?

We highly recommend a well-informed op-ed column in Berkeleyside by Dorothy Walker, who has deep roots in the city and campus communities and who’s been closely involved in Downtown planning for several years as a member of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee.

Walker describes the “strange bedfellows” who comprise Measure R’s supporters:

  • a few old-time progressives who view developers as evil money-makers to be thwarted whenever possible
  • some historic preservationists who want to preserve any building older than 40 years no matter its architectural merits or its inappropriateness for the needs of today
  • idealists or magical thinkers who believe that developers will build lots of affordable housing here no matter how many obstacles and financial demands are made on them, and
  • residents who think Berkeley was perfect when they arrived and nothing should change

Together, they represent but a “tiny minority” who are using the initiative process to oppose change and who are “evidently determined to keep trying to overturn the will of the majority who want a vibrant, green and exciting downtown neighborhood that provides new economic activity, new housing for people of all incomes, and millions in tax revenues that would be generated to beautify downtown and help the city and our schools,” Walker says in her Opinionator column.

Read the full column by clicking here .

See the exceptionally broad coalition of organizations and community leaders who oppose Measure R on our Endorsements page by clicking here .

Get the facts on Measure R and the danger it poses to Berkeley’s future in our FAQ and Why Vote Note page .

Express Identifies Real Agenda of Measure R: Anti-Growth

Measure R is backed by “by anti-growth activists who have consistently opposed the construction of tall buildings in downtown,” the East Bay Express reported in an article published Wednesday , Oct. 15.

The article’s assessment parallels the conclusion reached in a prominent, front-page San Francisco Chronicle article that Measure R is a “disingenuous” attempt “to pull the rug out from under future projects.”

News reports reinforce the positions taken by leading environmental, labor, business and professional groups who have all concluded that Measure R’s prohibitive fees and zoning restrictions would kill pending housing projects that are intended to realize Berkeley’s smart-growth policy of concentrating transit-oriented housing near the Downtown BART. The City study of the Measure R concluded that it would reduce Downtown housing capacity by 1,300 units.

As a result, Measure R means more auto commuting, pollution and greenhouse gases.

The Express notes that Measure R is an attempt to reverse the major community decision reached in 2010 to allow up to five relatively tall buildings – with three up to 180 feet – in the Downtown to help ease Berkeley’s critical housing shortage and combat global warming through transit-oriented housing. That plan was put to the voters in a ballot measure in 2010 – also coincidentally named Measure R – and won with resounding 64% approval.

The result of the 2010 mandate was incorporated into our current Downtown Plan – the product of six years of community participation, including more than 200 public meetings.

This new Measure R, which would overturn the Downtown Plan, was concocted by three self-appointed individuals without any public review or community input. Its chief sponsor is Jesse Arreguin, who actively opposed the 2010 Measure R. In fact, he was the lead signer of the ballot argument against the 2010 Measure R, but now he is straining the public’s credulity by claiming that he’s proposing the new Measure R to realize unfulfilled promises of the 2010 Measure R.

Don’t be hoodwinked by this cynical ploy.

See the extraordinarily broad coalition of organizations and community leaders who oppose Measure R on our Endorsements page by clicking here .

Get the facts on Measure R and the danger it poses to Berkeley’s future in our FAQ and Why Vote Note page .

Climate Expert Describes Measure R’s Many Flaws

Diz Swift, a lecturer on climate change at the NYU Stern School of Business and a Berkeley Public Works Commissioner, says Measure R “would essentially kill the progress we’re now making for a green downtown.”

Dr. Swift’s Oct. 8 Berkeleyside column, “ Berkeley’s Measure R is bad government ,” adds further weight to the body of expert analysis identifying the faults of Measure R.

Her conclusion?

“Crafted by a tiny clique of authors, complex and inflexible, requiring a new vote of the people to change the smallest detail, and derailing our green downtown, Measure R must be defeated,” she says.

You can read her reasons and full analysis by clicking here .

Measure R is opposed by experts in many fields, as well as by a broad coalition of environmental, labor, business, civic and professional organizations. To see the list, click here .

For other recent news about Measure R, please click here .

You can find more information about Measure R and the danger it poses to Berkeley’s future in our FAQ and Why Vote Note page.

Why Measure R Is Bad for Students

One question we’re hearing increasingly as the election draws near is how college students would be affected by Measure R on the Berkeley ballot. Below are some of the ways.

The measure would:

  • Intensify Berkeley’s critical housing shortage and drive up rents.

Measure R would impose significant additional restrictions and fees on developers seeking to construct new apartment buildings in Berkeley’s Downtown. The concluded that the requirements are so burdensome that they would make buildings over 60 feet financially infeasible and eliminate 1,300 units of Downtown housing capacity. The constriction of supply means landlords can charge higher rents, making it harder for students to find affordable housing – or any housing – near campus.

  • Increase greenhouse gases and harm the environment.

Today’s college generation is more aware than any previous one of the looming crisis posed by climate change. The loss of housing caused by Measure R would disperse population, increase auto-caused pollution and undermine Berkeley’s critical climate action strategy of increasing housing density near major transit hubs. This displacement translates into 225 million pounds of carbon emissions over 15 years, according to the .

  • Reduce Downtown eating and shopping options.

Measure R would overturn our Downtown Plan that has seen a remarkable turnaround giving us a more vibrant, safer and cleaner heart of the city. Measure R’s draconian anti-growth regulations would stifle our thriving dining and cultural life in the Downtown.

  • Force bars and restaurants serving alcohol to close early.

Measure R would impose a midnight closing time, Sun.-Thurs., on new businesses selling or serving alcohol, and on existing businesses when they make changes requiring a permit.

To see the broad coalition of environmental, labor, civic, business and other groups who oppose Measure R, click here .

For other recent news about Measure R, please click here .

You can find more information about Measure R and the danger it poses to Berkeley’s future in our FAQ and Why Vote Note page.