Why Measure R, Berkeley’s proposed downtown initiative, is actually bad for Berkeley

Jeff Hobson head shot

Updated 11/5/2014: This ballot measure FAILED with 74% of the vote. Read a round-up of all 2014 election results here.

Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan was finalized in 2012 thanks to years of meaningful public input and support. But this Plan is being threatened by a new initiative that would undo several parts of the existing plan, making Berkeley more expensive, more car-dependent, and more polluted as a result. 

This is why TransForm is opposing Berkeley Measure R, officially titled the “Initiative Ordinance Amending Downtown Zoning Provisions and Creating Civic Center Historic District Overlay Zone” and slated for this November's ballot.

While some elements of this initiative may be well-intentioned, the negative impacts would far outweigh the positive. TransForm believes that if passed, Measure R would hurt downtown Berkeley in many ways, including: 

  • Creating more traffic: Measure R would significantly increase how much parking is built in downtown Berkeley and even make zero-parking projects illegal. More parking will create more traffic and make walking, biking, and transit less useful and convenient.
  • Reducing affordability: Measure R would reduce the housing capacity of downtown by about 1300 homes, driving up rent in desirable areas as fewer people could live and work in downtown Berkeley.
  • Increasing greenhouse gas emissions: by our conservative calculations, Measure R could result in over two million additional vehicle miles travelled per year by commuters who work in Berkeley but can’t live there. This equates to at least 1,588,733 pounds of extra CO2 per year. 
  • Subverting public participation in planning: the existing Downtown Area Plan (DAP) was painstakingly and carefully crafted over the course of 6+ years and more than 200 public meetings. By contrast, Measure R was written by a few individuals and would dramatically reverse much of the DAP.
  • Wasting time and money: Measure R has several elements that are either illegal or unenforceable. The legal wrangling that would have to go into implementing them is a waste of the city’s already limited resources.

On a personal note: I moved to Berkeley nineteen years ago, and now live just west of downtown. My mom lives downtown. My kids go to Berkeley schools. I have a deep personal interest in what happens in downtown Berkeley. I would be dismayed if this measure passed because it would hurt my family’s quality of life.

TransForm encourages Berkeley voters to oppose Measure R on the November ballot. 

Read TransForm’s full analysis of Berkeley Measure R here. 

This is one in a series of voter recommendations that will be part of TransForm’s 2014 Election Guide.



About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.