Playing With Politics

A Blog on Law, Politics, Planning, Development, and Other Vices

Archive for October, 2010

Understanding Berkeley’s Measure R

Posted by Roobs on October 27, 2010

Measure R is about environmentalism but it is also about understanding how planning and development work to improve communities

Residents in the City of Berkeley will be asked this November to vote on the direction of their Downtown… again.  Like most issues in Berkeley, this measure is the subject of some controversy.

The fight between environmentalists and their opponents over how to plan the development of Downtown Berkeley has gone on for years, with affordable housing and the height of future buildings being two subjects of contention.

On one side, supporters of Measure R include environmental groups like the Sierra Club and The League of Conservation Voters, 7 of the 9 City Council members, as well as organized labor and a range of planners and economists, including former Labor Secretary to the Clinton Administration, Robert Reich. Supporters argue that Measure R is the greenest direction for Downtown Berkeley and that by increasing Downtown’s density, it will help achieve Berkeley’s Climate Action plan passed last year.

On the other side you have the opposition–which includes two council members, The Berkeley Daily Planet—a local news website, and the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, argue that Measure R is too vague and doesn’t go far enough to ensure affordable housing.  They also protest the increased height limits.

To understand why Measure R is on the ballot, you need only know that this measure repeats a part of the Downtown Plan the Berkeley City Council had approved last year. This plan was later rescinded after Councilmen Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington–the only council members who voted no on the original plan–led a controversial, though successful, signature gathering campaign to place the council’s decision on the ballot.  As a result, the City Council scrapped the original plan and are  now tasked to create a new one.   It comes as no surprise that both Arreguin and Worthington are the only two council members opposing Measure R and actively seeking its defeat this November.

In the end, whether Measure R is good or bad comes down to density, environmentalism and an understanding of how planning and development works.

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Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Appeal of Prop 8 Ruling Set for Dec. 6

Posted by Roobs on October 22, 2010

The appeal of the August ruling striking down California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8, is set for December 6, 2010.

Back in August of this year, US District Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that Prop 8 violated the US Constitution and ordered it overturned.  However, due to the certain appeal process, Judge Walker granted the defendants (Yes on 8 ) a stay of his ruling, meaning that Prop 8 is still the law of the land until the appeals process is over or his ruling is reversed by a higher court.  At trial, the justices will be hearing two arguments.

Standing

First, Yes on 8 will be arguing why they should be granted Article III standing to appeal Judge Walkers’ ruling.  This is probably the big issue that could end this legal fight right then and there.  Last year, the Judge walker allowed Yes on 8 to “intervene” in the Prop 8 trial when both Jerry Brown – currently CA’s Attorney General – and Governor Arnold Schwartzenneger said they would not defend Prop 8 in court.  This is no the same as being granted Article III standing.

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Improving Jack London Square

Posted by Roobs on October 19, 2010

It’s been two months since I moved from Berkeley to West Hollywood to pursue a masters degree in urban planning from UCLA.  Though I am hundreds of miles away, I find myself in class thinking of practical uses of concepts back in the East Bay.  Often times, Oakland is a good candidate for many.

In one class, we discussed two, not very dissimilar concepts for district improvements.  The first was the idea of a parking meter zones (PMZ), as proposed by “prophet of parking” and UCLA professor, Donald Shoup.  The second is the concept of a business improvement district (BID) or a community benefit district (CBD).  Each together and individually have the potential to bring out Jack London Square’s, and Oakland’s in general, true potential.

I’ve wanted to write a post to this effect for some time and am very happy that my time at UCLA has allowed me to finally move forward.

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Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sunday Links

Posted by Roobs on October 3, 2010

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