Our recommendations in key Alameda County, Berkeley and Oakland races
Alameda County ballot measures
The Oakland Zoo does wonders with rescue animals; instead of bringing in creatures from the wild or from other zoos, the folks in Oakland often find ways to take in animals that have been abused or mistreated elsewhere. Measure A1 would impose a tiny ($12 a year) parcel tax to support the public zoo. Critics say the money could go for zoo expansion, but the expansion's happening anyway. Vote yes.
Quite possibly the most important thing on the East Bay ballot, Measure B1 creates the funding for a long-term transportation plan. Almost half of the money goes for public transit and only 30 percent goes for streets and road. There's more bicycle money than in any previous transportation plan. Every city in Alameda County supports it. Vote yes.
Berkeley ballot measures
STREET IMPROVEMENTS BOND
Not our first choice for a street improvement bond, it's a bit of a hodgepodge that squeaked through a divided council. But the city's deferred street maintenance is a major problem and this $30 million bond would be a modest step forward.
Berkeley has lost half its public pools in the past two years; the facilities are unusable, and it's going to take about $20 million to refurbish and rebuild them. This bond measure would allow the city to re-open the Willard Pool and build a new Warm Water Pool — critical for seniors and people rehabbing from injuries. Vote Yes.
Berkeley often does things right, and this is a perfect example: Instead of building new facilities that it can't afford to operate (hell, SF Recreation and Parks Department), Berkeley is asking for two things from the voters: Bond money to rebuild the municipal pools, and a special tax to provide $600,000 a year for operations. We support both.
REAUTHORIZING SPECIAL TAXES
Measure P doesn't raise anyone's taxes. It's just a housekeeping measure, mandated by state law, allowing the city to keep spending taxes that were approved years ago for parks, libraries, medical services, services for the disabled, and fire services. Vote yes.
Berkeley's been collecting utility taxes on cell phones for some time now, but the law that allows it is based on federal language that has changed. So the city needs to make this modest change to continue collecting its existing tax.
The council districts in Berkeley were set when the city adopted district elections in 1986, with a charter amendment saying all future redistricting should conform as closely as possible to the 1986 lines. Nice idea, but the population has changed and it makes sense for the council to have more flexibility with redistricting.
NO, NO, NO
It's hard to believe that progressive Berkeley, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending similar laws in court, wants to criminalize sitting on the sidewalk. It hasn't worked in San Francisco, it won't work in Berkeley. Vote no.