Posted by Roobs on November 3, 2010
This past Tuesday, Berkeley voters overwhelmingly passed Measure R, the controversial city measure that called for greener and denser development around transit in Downtown Berkeley. Measure R passed with 64% of the vote.
Supporters stated Measure R is the greenest direction for Downtown Berkeley because it increases Downtown’s density. And by pushing green building standards and encouraging new residents to live near transit, it will help achieve Berkeley’s Climate Action plan passed last year. Opponents, however, argued that Measure R is too vague and doesn’t go far enough to ensure affordable housing. They also protest the increased height limits.
I previously wrote a post, Understanding Berkeley’s Measure R, that went over many of the opponents claims and found them to be largely unfounded, if not flat out false. As it turned out, Berkeley voters did understand Measure R.
Measure R repeated 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 This plan was later rescinded after Councilmen Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington–the only council members who voted no on the original plan–led a controversial, though successful,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. Measure R came to exist after the City Council scrapped the original plan and are now tasked to create a new one. With Measure R now in place, the Berkeley City Council has a clear direction of what the voters want to see out of their Downtown. But some opponents are downplaying the passage of Measure R.
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Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: Berkeley, East Bay, Jesse Arreguin, Kriss Worthington, Measure R, Stewart Jones | Leave a Comment »
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: AC Transit, Berkeley, Downtown, East Bay, Jesse Arreguin, Jones v. City of Los Angeles, Kriss Worthington, Measure R, NIMBY, Stewart Jones | 2 Comments »
Posted by Roobs on May 10, 2010
Two Thursdays ago, the Berkeley City Council voted on the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) plan for AC Transit’s East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. The Council essentially had three options: 1) “Full Build”, as recommended by the city staff, which would mean dedicated lanes running up Telegraph Avenue and “island” bus stops, where passengers could board the bus in the middle of the road, much like you see in San Francisco on Market Street. 2) A “Reduced Impact Alternative” as prepared by Mayor Bates and other councilmembers, which was a watered down version of the Full Build option, but still included dedicated lanes and islands. 3) A so-called “Rapid Bus Plus” (RBP) option which, in essence, is a no-build option because it removed all dedicated lanes and made no lane reconfigurations on roads.
After impassioned, and sometimes theatrical testimony by the public, the Berkeley City Council succumbed to NIMBY pressure and rejected any elements of full-build and endorsed only option three, the so-called, “Rapid Bus Plus” plan.
Before I go into the issues of BRT, let me quickly address the importance of the LPA and why you should be upset that Berkeley has practically killed the BRT project for everyone else. In very simplified terms, the way a project like this goes is that AC Transit puts together an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on how they want the project to run. In this case, they give their preferred route for a BRT system from San Leandro to Oakland to Berkeley. This is then sent to each city for review. Each city then decides what they believe is the best alternative for their city, the LPA.
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Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: AC Transit, Berkeley, BRT, Jesse Arreguin, Kriss Worthington, Oakland, Public Transit, Urban Planning | 5 Comments »