A Guide to East Bay Counties’ Ballot Measures:By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday October 12, 2004

Voters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties will be asked to consider a wide array of ballot measures in the Nov. 2 election. Two of these (AA and BB) are regional measures to be voted on by residents across both counties. One measure (CC) is a regional measure to be voted on only by residents in the East Bay Regional Park District Zone 1 (generally the western areas of Alameda and Contra Costa counties). One measure (J) will be voted on by residents of Contra Costa County. Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Oakland, and Richmond residents will all be voting on individual measures for their cities. The Berkeley ballot measures were detailed in the last issue of the Daily Planet. 




(Alameda and Contra Costa counties) 

Measure AA — BART Bond Measure 

Would levy a real property tax to finance a $980 million bond to pay for disaster upgrading on the BART system, including strengthening and seismic upgrading in case of earthquakes. The term of the bond would not exceed 35 years. The rate of this tax is estimated to range between $4.85 to $12.79 per $100,000 in assessed valuation for the 35 year life of the bond. 


Measure BB — AC Transit Parcel Tax 

Would increase the AC Transit parcel tax in Transit District 1 in order to subsidize the operation and maintenance of bus service in this area. Transit District 1 includes Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Hayward, Oakland, Piedmont, Richmond, San Leandro, San Pablo, and the nearby unincorporated areas. The special parcel tax would be $48 on each parcel of taxable land. The parcel tax would expire in 10 years. 


Measure CC — East Bay Regional Park District Zone 1 Parcel Tax 

Would create a residential parcel tax to fund public access, wildlife protection, public safety, and environmental maintenance of East Bay Regional Park District lands in western Alameda and western Contra Costa Counties. Only parks within the Parks District Zone 1 will be funded from this tax, and only residents of Parks District Zone 1 will be eligible to vote on this parcel tax. The parks in Zone 1 include Alameda Point, Anthony Chabot, Crown Beach, Eastshore State Park, Huckleberry, Kennedy Grove, Lake Chabot, Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline, Miller/Knox, Pt. Isabel, Pt. Pinole, Redwood, Roberts, Temescal, Tilden, Tilden Nature Area, Wildcat Canyon, Leona, Brooks Island, Claremont Canyon, Sibley, and Alvarado. The parcel tax would be $12 per year for a single-family residential parcel, $8.28 per year for each unit within a multi-family unit. The parcel tax would expire in 15 years. 




Measure A — Albany Unified School District Bond Measure 

Would authorize the issuance of $13 million in bonds to support various school improvements in the Albany Unified School District. The bond money would be used to complete school modernization improvements at Marin and Ocean View schools, repair and upgrade Cougar Field and other playing fields, and provide matching funds for various state school funding. Would raise Albany’s ad valorem property tax between $25 and $51 per $100,000 on assessed valuation. The bonds would last no more than 25 years. 


Measure G — City of Albany Paramedic/ Ambulance Special Tax 

Would change the way non-residential properties are assessed under the Paramedic Advanced Life Support Tax passed by Albany voters in 2000. Under Measure N in 2000, Albany voters taxed every commercial or industrial property in the city at the equivalent of two residential units, regardless of the actual size of that commercial or industrial property. Measure G would change that assessment so that every 1,200 feet of commercial and industrial property would be assessed under the Paramedic Advanced Life Support Tax at the same rate as one residential unit.  


Measure T — City of Emeryville Pixar Headquarters Expansion 

Would ratify amendments to the Emeryville General Plan and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. The amendments are necessary to complete the city’s proposed agreement with Pixar concerning the expansion of Pixar headquarters in the city. Among other things, the amendments would change the land use designation of certain properties connected with the Pixar expansion, would eliminate the extension of Emery Street between 45th Street and park Avenue, and would relocate the route of bicycle and pedestrian path presently designated for that area. 


Measure U — City of Emeryville Pixar Development Agreement 

Would ratify the agreement between the City of Emeryville and Pixar concerning the expansion of Pixar headquarters in the city. The Amended Development agreement would authorize the construction of three new Pixar buildings in addition to the existing headquarters building. It would also authorize the construction of a six-story garage. It would turn over to Pixar the section of Emery Street between 45th Street and Park Avenue. In exchange, Pixar would be required to pay the city a $1.5 million capital improvement and services fee. 


Measure Y — City of Oakland Parking Lot and Parcel Tax 

Would create a parcel tax and a commercial parking surcharge in order to fund fire services, paramedic services, violence prevention measures, and the hiring of new police officers. Would impose an 8.5 percent surcharge on every rented parking space in commercial parking lots. Would add an $88 per year parcel tax for single-family residential parcels, as well as a $60.12 per year per unit parcel tax for multi-unit residential parcels. Would also impose a parcel tax on all developed non-residential parcels. The parcel tax and the parking surcharge would expire in 10 years. Proceeds from the two taxes would go to hiring 63 new police officers. $4 million would go to fire and paramedic services, and at least 40 percent would go to violence preventive social services, including youth outreach counselors, after-school and in-school programs for at-risk students, domestic violence and child abuse counselors, and employment training for formerly-incarcerated individuals. 


Measure Z — City of Oakland Marijuana Law Enforcement 

Would set marijuana law enforcement as Oakland’s lowest law enforcement priority. Would require the City of Oakland to lobby for the legalization of marijuana use. Would license, tax, and regulate marijuana sale in Oakland when and if California allows such activity. Would create a city commission to regulate such activity when and if California allows such activity. 




Measure J — Contra Costa County Sales Tax 

Would continue the present 0.5 percent transit tax on transactions and retail sales in Contra Costa County for 25 more years—from 2009 through 2034. The present transit tax (passed by Contra Costa County voters in 1988 as Measure C) is scheduled to end in April of 2009. The money from the tax would go exclusively for projects listed in the Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s Transportation Expenditure Plan, including extending and improving the BART system, adding a fourth bore to the Caldecott Tunnel, improving Highways 24, 80, 680, and 4, maintaining and improving local streets and roads, subsidizing ferry service, and improving transit for seniors and disabled persons. 


Measure K — City of El Cerrito Utility Users Tax 

Would ratify the existing City of El Cerrito eight percent utility users tax. The tax is collected on gas, electric, cable, and telephone bills. The tax is used to supplement the city’s general fund, and costs residents an average of $12 per month. The tax was adopted by El Cerrito City Council in 1991 without voter approval, but recently the California Supreme Court rulings has ruled that such general tax increases should be submitted to the voters. This vote asks El Cerrito residents to agree to continuing the utility tax in the future, as well as ratify the collection of the tax since 1991. 


Measure Q — City of Richmond Transaction Use Tax 

Would authorize a .5 percent retail sales and use tax in the City of Richmond for the city’s general fund. Would raise Richmond’s sales tax from the current 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent. The money raised would have no restrictions. 

Measure R - City of Richmond Charter Amendment 

Would reduce the number of Richmond City Councilmembers from nine to seven, effective for the November 2008 elections. In the November 2008 elections that would reduce the number of councilmembers elected that year from five to three.