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.

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 .

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.

No on R Wins Key New Ally – Berkeley Food & Housing Project

Another important community institution – the 44-year-old Berkeley Food & Housing Project – has joined the large coalition of organizations that oppose Measure R on the Berkeley ballot.

The Food & Housing Project’s endorsement reflects the growing public understanding that Measure R’s draconian zoning restrictions would make Berkeley a much less desirable place to live.

There are many reasons why a broad spectrum of environmental, labor, business and non-profit organizations, along with the Berkeley’s leading elected officials, have come out solidly against Measure R.

It would kill new housing Downtown, thus exacerbating the city’s critical housing shortage. And since the lost housing would have been centered around Berkeley’s Downtown transit hub, Measure R would force more people to rely on automobiles that pollute the atmosphere and increase greenhouse gases.

The City’s study of Measure R concluded that it would eliminate $1.3 million a year in future tax revenues for the City, thus reducing the City’s ability to insure public safety and fund social services for those in need. It would also cost Berkeley schools $1 million a year, the study found.

Measure R touts itself as the “Green Downtown” initiative, but those who have analyzed its 28 pages of legally flawed, poorly drafted changes to the zoning code can see that it’s an antigrowth wolf in sheep’s clothing. It deploys the familiar ruse of “green-washing” by adopting an environmentally friendly mask, when in fact, its prohibitive new fees and restrictions on large housing and office projects are so burdensome that they would be financially unfeasible, according to the City’s study of the measure.

To see the extraordinary spectrum of those who endorse “No on R,” please click here . We hope you’ll add your name too.

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 .

East Bay Express: Measure R’s “Pivotal Role” in Council Races

Measure R “appears to be playing a pivotal role this November in the three contests for city council,” the East Bay Express reported today (Oct. 1).

The Express coverage reflects the growing media attention to the measure, whose real intent – to block new housing and office space – was exposed in the lead front-page article this past Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle .

The Express said:

“Measure R would overturn past council decisions that were designed to increase density in downtown and attract more residents to the city’s urban core. Arreguin [the measure’s sponsor] contends that the measure would require developers to build greener projects in downtown. But opponents of the measure, including a majority of the council, contend that the ballot initiative is too restrictive and would block Berkeley from developing smart growth projects that limit greenhouse gas emissions.

“As a result,” the Express reported, “the outcome of Measure R and the three Berkeley council races this year could have a significant impact on the future of downtown development.”

The article identified three City Council races where Measure R is an issue:

  • Southeast Berkeley District 8, with four candidates – Michael Alvarez Cohen, George Beier, Lori Droste, Jacquelin McCormick – for the seat being vacated by Gordon Wozniak
  • South-of-campus District 7, with Sean Barry challenging incumbent Kriss Worthington
  • Northwest Berkeley District 1, with incumbent Linda Maio facing challengers Merrilie Mitchell and Alejandro Soto-Vigil.

The article reported the positions of seven of the candidates on Measure R: five opposed (Alvarez Cohen, Barry, Beier, Droste, Maio) and two in favor (McCormick, Soto-Vigil).

Click here to read the full article.

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.