As the election draws close, the debate concerning KK is coming to a close. KK has been a success. Regardless of the final outcome, KK began a real city wide public discussion of BRT. The Transportation Commission won’t do it, The City Council won’t do it, and AC Transit won’t do it—KK has.
The most interesting thing about the debate has been the League of Women Voters stance against KK with no discussion with the proponents of the initiative. KK is for democracy—allowing you to vote on an issue that will affect many people. You have to wonder why the League is against it? Has the League become an institution against democracy?
The Sierra Club’s “no” position is another wonder. Like the League, the Club made its decision without allowing the proponents of KK to explain why BRT is not environmentally friendly. One would think the Club would question the fact that the Draft EIR on page 4-131 says that “Implementation of BRT would result in a 0.03 percent reduction in pollutant emissions” and on page 4-152 the draft says “The energy impacts of the build alternatives as compared to the No-Build alternative would be negligible.” No mention is made of any saving hoped for by reducing automobile usage in either case. Has the Sierra Club been taken over by the people who hate cars so completely that they don’t care about the environment?
Then we come to our elected officials and those running for office. Are they so afraid of democracy that they don’t want their constituents to vote on an issue that will change the face of Berkeley? They tell you that the cost of this initiative will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course any plan that the City must be part of will cost money, they fail to tell you that. Special elections would not be necessary. All we have to do is plan around the next general election and the cost almost disappears.
The arguments put forth by “The Friends of BRT” against KK make you wonder if they feel they know best. Reducing car congestion on the streets of Berkeley will take a much more serious discussion with the University of California, the developers, and the business owners of Berkeley. If “The friends” are really serious about this, they would be urging Mayor Bates and the City Council to talk to these groups and find solutions. All UC wants to do is build more parking lots so more of their staff can drive in Berkeley. The developers aren’t much better, they want to build without parking, but won’t provide the means for those who live in their projects free public transportation.
Those against KK try to convince us that the initiative is poorly written. It seems like this is a worn out reason to oppose KK. In fact, the initiative very clearly states that it only requires the voters to approve projects that would dedicate Berkeley streets to transit-only or HOV/Bus-only use. It does not disallow any of those uses.
The Rebuttal to arguments in favor of measure KK is so full of unproven and/or false statements that Council member Kriss Worthington says, “The first, second, and fourth sections of the rebuttal are unproven and/or false. I am opposed to Measure KK but I can not sign my name to be associated with this rebuttal argument. I think it is more honest and more effective to stick to facts and avoid hyperbole and inaccuracy. Some opponents of BRT and some supporters of KK offered lists of proposals, so why say that they ‘say nothing.’ That’s not true. The ‘normal’ process is ongoing and neither we nor they know if they will get what they want.” Kriss continues, “If the No on KK makes so many false statements it could turn public opinion against us and that would be very sad.”
It seems to me the voters need to protect themselves from grandiose plans that will probably not achieve the results proponents claim. Protect your right to have a say in the quality of life issues surrounding transportation in Berkeley. Vote “yes” on KK.
Dean Metzger is president of the Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association.