Berkeley Sunset by Josh Parks
Picture of Karen Santos Rosenberg

Karen Santos Rosenberg

Loss: Berkeley Votes No on Measure L

Update: In a disappointing result, Berkeley’s Measure L did not pass, leaving the City without much-needed funding to invest in housing, infrastructure, and climate projects.

Greenbelt Alliance encouraged the residents of Berkeley to vote yes on Measure L to support housing, infrastructure, and climate projects in order to create a more equitable, resilient, and affordable Berkeley for all. 

This bold measure was placed on the ballot by the Berkeley City Council with hopes to issue $650 million of general obligation bonds to finance the acquisition and improvement of real property for affordable and social housing and public infrastructure and facilities. If approved, Measure L would become the largest revenue stream in the city’s history. 

$300 million would have been allocated towards improvements to streets, sidewalks, and traffic safety allowing for more walkable streets and neighborhoods. An additional $200 million would have been set aside for affordable housing initiatives that would help to construct and acquire up to 2,000 homes when combined with additional state and federal funding. This funding would have enabled the City to help meet the growing demand for affordable housing and achieve its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals. The remaining $150 million would have been designated for safety and climate efforts like “undergrounding” utilities on evacuation routes to reduce wildfire risks, constructing bike and pedestrian facilities, and improving the city’s waterfronts, open spaces, and parks. 

Financial Implications had Measure L Passed: 

The bonds will be payable from ad valorem taxes levied on real property in the City of Berkeley. The City estimates that the median annual tax rate over the 48-year period that the bonds are projected to be outstanding would be approximately $40.91 for every $100,000 of assessed value, or $265 for the average assessed home value of $647,000. The City estimates that the average (mean) annual tax rate that would be required to be levied is approximately $39 for every $100,000 of assessed value. The City estimates that the highest tax rate that would be required to be levied is approximately $71 per $100,000 of assessed value, which the City projects will begin to apply in 2041-42.

Berkeley City Attorney

Why We Supported Measure L

This measure would have played a vital role in creating a resilient and climate SMART Berkeley for current and future generations. It would have allowed for a more walkable and vibrant community where people can work, live, and play. Funding for new affordable housing will play a major role in making a dent in the affordability crisis, giving more opportunities for those who work in Berkeley to live nearby and subsequently reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled.

Photo: Josh Parks via Flickr

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