Election Section

Vote No on Measure F, the Unfair Fee for Vehicles

By Merrilie Mitchell (Reader Commentary)
Monday October 25, 2010 - 08:20:00 PM

This vehicle tax never dies and can transform in amount and purpose without voter approval. 

It can be used for BRT, and that was stated on Senator Loni Hancock's website when she created the enabling legislation for Measure F. 

F can pass with just 50% + 1 vote! So spread the word. Liberal Berkeley is known for passing this type of "greenwashed measure" in such high numbers that it carries our county! Shame on those who vote slate cards that say Green or some environmental or Democratic organization. 

Measure F fails the truth test because it claims to be for local, but can be used for regional buses: BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) which REPLACES local buses. BRT hurts those who depend on the local buses--seniors, disabled, and students. 

I believe Measure F was created to help finance BRT, and I attended the subcommittee meetings at Congestion Management Agency. I learned that the initial 11 million dollars can be received 5 years in advance, then matched with other transit funds to become over $110 million. And I heard one of our elected officials tell the group that he would get them the Sierra Club endorsement. 

I'll explain more about BRT here because it’s an acronym used to confuse but it’s critically important to know. 

BRT would be a boondoggle without benefit for our city. It is clearly part of the latest University expansion strategy which includes a 100 foot tall, block-long UC/BP Helios Project on Hearst Street. Helios Labs are for classified research in GMO biofuels. The project may be expected to release radioactive, nanoscale and hazardous material and should not be headed Downtown. 

So Vote No on R, Mayor Bates’ big Downtown expansion plan which would accommodate Helios and other UC research labs and offices Downtown. 

And also huge MUP (Master Use Permit) zoning has just sailed through the Planning Commission to allow more giant UC/BP research labs to be located all along the Bay in West Berkeley M zone! BRT is involved in the West Berkeley planning too. 

BRT uses big, dangerous, Van Hool buses, removes parking, skips local stops, and is a redevelopment strategy devastating to small local businesses. Redeveloped projects become too big and expensive for small business to buy or rent, so often only chain stores can afford to locate there... 

Though our elected officials haven’t told us the news, BRT bus stops can become"transit villages" with higher density zoning half mile around. (Former Assemblyman Tom Bates created the legislation.) If you plot the 1/2 mile stops and rezonings you see the entire Flatlands and foothills of Berkeley could easily be rezoned and transformed with BRT. And we would lose the local buses we need! 

Measure F could have been used for Ecopass (deep discount bus pass like UC students and city employees have) so everyone might hop on and off local buses for local trips. That could actually improve congestion and air quality, help people, and save our still green city.