Fate of Berkeley Measure T Is Still Not Sealed;
No on S Maintains Lead

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday November 07, 2012 - 09:40:00 PM

The fate of a ballot measure that would allow more flexibility in the development of large parcels of land in West Berkeley remained up in the air in updated election results released late this afternoon.

Measure T, which would amend the West Berkeley Plan and the city's zoning ordinance for areas west of San Pablo Avenue, is trailing by only 26 votes, or 50.04 percent to 49.96 percent.

The gap in the results posted by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters shortly after 4 p.m. is smaller than the 123-vote margin in the results announced shortly after midnight.

It will take several more days to count additional vote-by-mail and provisional ballots, voting officials said.

Countywide, about 85,000 vote-by-mail ballots and 40,000 provisional ballots still need to be tabulated. Voting officials don't have a breakdown of how many of those are from Berkeley. 

Measure T would allow buildings 75 feet high on six large parcels in West Berkeley. However, projects couldn't be built until the City Council adopts rules requiring developers to provide some sort of undefined community benefits, such as affordable housing or job training requirements. 

Supporters say the measure would create jobs and allow property owners to develop unused lots with the potential to generate millions of dollars in revenue to the city to pay for enhanced amenities and services to the community. 

But opponents say big new buildings would create an eyesore in the area and force rents to increase, making it less affordable for artists who currently work in the area. 

The gap also narrowed slightly today in the margin against Measure S, which would ban sitting on sidewalks in the city's commercial areas from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. 

The measure trailed by 1,055 in the results announced just after midnight but the margin decreased to 1,101 votes in the updated tally late this afternoon. However, Measure S still faces an uphill battle because it trails by 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. 

Supporters say the measure is needed to reduce the number of street people who loiter in front of stores because they scare customers away and hurt business. 

But opponents say the measure discriminates against people who happen to be poor and the city already has an ordinance that prohibits people from lying on the sidewalk during daytime hours.