Oct. 7, 2010
Measure R is the right approach
The future of Berkeley’s downtown is on the Nov. 2 ballot. The people of Berkeley will vote to tell the City Council if they agree with direction of creating a green downtown that will implement the City’s 2008 Climate Action Plan.
Measure R is based on a five-year community process and hundreds of public meetings. It is a compromise of three plans considered by the Council. Measure R’s green components are agreed to in all three plans.
The difference between the plans is the number of taller buildings that can be built near the Downtown BART station. Measure R allows the fewest- only three- and they can be no taller than the tall buildings there now.
Downtown residential development, close to buses and BART, will mean less pressure for growth in neighborhoods. Measure R encourages smaller residential buildings of five stories (like the European cities we like to visit) by providing for an expedited approval process if environmental, labor equity and design standards are agreed to by the property owners.
More people living, working and shopping in downtown is a key to the success of cities — and because downtown Berkeley is a transit hub, those residents will have easy access to alternative transportation.
The Berkeley Voice says Measure R has no method of enforcement. That is correct, Measure R is advisory. The final zoning plan will be adopted by the City Council and it will be
Regardless of Measure R’s passage, crime and aggressive panhandling must be dealt with. The City Council has taken strong steps to address these issues with increased law enforcement and services.
And, of course, one of the most effective ways to address inappropriate street behavior is to have more positive activity on the streets — people walking, shopping and eating. Half-Price Books is a clear example; the corner of Addison and Shattuck has transformed since their arrival a few years ago.
I must simply disagree that it would be a waste of voters’ time to vote yes. In 2006, the people of Berkeley passed a similar advisory measure directing the City Council to develop a climate action plan. We passed a strong plan, and Measure R is one of the ways that plan can be implemented.
That is why there is such strong support for Measure R from all parts of the Berkeley Community:
Environmental advocates — the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Greenbelt Alliance and Bicycle Friendly Berkeley Coalition;
Advocates for jobs, a robust economy and affordable housing — Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Berkeley Association, Alameda County Central Labor Council, and the Berkeley Food and Housing Project
And, the League of Women Voters.
Please vote yes on Measure R.
Tom Bates is the mayor of Berkeley.