Measure R Is A Vague, Ineffectual Proposition

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Measure R is a compendium of platitudes, inconsistencies and contradictions. The ballot statement for Measure R uses the word green 23 times. It is full of superlative language and vague statements. It claims to make Berkeley one of the greenest cities in the country and is unfortunately endorsed by the Sierra Club.

However, when campaign finance statements for the yes on Measure R campaign were released a week ago, we learned who was paying for the Sierra Club mailer and more importantly that the individuals behind the campaign are hardly green in the environmental sense. Out of the $32,000 donated to the campaign, Equity Residential, owned by the right-wing billionaire Sam Zell, gave the lions share of $25,000.

He was recently slammed in an NY Times article for fostering a "bankrupt culture". In at number two is L.B. Reddy Estate company, which gave $2500 and is owned by Lakireddi Bali Reddy, a convicted sex trafficker who was exposed and eventually convicted because he failed to maintain one of his buildings in Berkeley. Joining them as the third biggest donor with $1000 is the incumbent in District 8, Gordon Wozniak.

Everybody agrees downtown Berkeley needs work. There are far too many vacant properties, and it lacks cohesive vitality. While Measure R claims it will solve the problems of the downtown, it is actually a shell for large scale corporate greenwashing.

Measure R is not simply a vision statement as some might call it because it does specify three important things. Masked in green rhetoric, Measure R raises height limits to 180 feet and even potentially taller with a density bonus, expands the downtown to threaten surrounding neighborhoods and guts the landmark preservation ordinance, to make it easier to demolish historic buildings.

For a plan that claims to be environmentally friendly, Measure R does not require stringent green building standards to be implemented throughout the city - not just in the downtown. Neither does it have any actual provisions for open space or the creation of a plaza necessary for a livable downtown.

Furthermore, Measure R provides no guarantee that we will get affordable housing in the downtown area. Rather than building affordable units in a project, it allows developers to pay an in lieu fee of an unspecified amount so we do not know if we will even get enough of the money that we need to build affordable housing units elsewhere.

Berkeley is the densest city in the East Bay and is getting more so - just look at all the new development under the existing plan. We are already doing our part to combat urban sprawl. The most vibrant part of downtown is the Saturday farmers market.

The downtown deserves a a plaza and a full time market hall like the ferry building in San Francisco that celebrates local and sustainable businesses.

We need a downtown that accentuates the things that make Berkeley special and the high ground in the Bay Area. Measure R takes away this potential because it is a gift to corporate interests from a weak city council that disregards public input and lacks the vision and the energy to create a downtown that is truly vibrant and a model for the future.

Vote No on Measure R - we don't need it to revitalize downtown Berkeley. Revitalize, yes - green-wash, no.

For more information, please visit


Stewart Jones is a candidate for Berkeley City Council in District 8. Reply to [email protected]

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