East Bay Special Elections Voter Guide
It’s almost election-lite time in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Both counties will hold special elections Nov. 5 with very little to vote on, but local stuff matters in big ways and the measures in your area are worth having an opinion on. Here are the basics for each county and my recommendations.
The Nov. 5 Special Election in Alameda County is pretty light. There are some school board selections to be made in Dublin that I won’t get into here, but there are two measures for Piedmont voters to consider. Both are related to the Piedmont Unified School District.
Measure G is a proposed parcel tax that would max out at $2,763 per parcel and would be set to expire June 30, 2028. The expected $10.8 million annual revenue is slated to “continue funding programs in math, science, technology, engineering, English, music, and arts, keep textbooks and instructional technology up to date, maintain smaller class sizes, and attract and retain qualified teachers.”
The proposed tax is considered an extension of the voter-approved Measure A, that would otherwise expire June 30, 2021. However, the new measure proposes an increase of about $300 to the maximum fee. The measure was placed on the ballot by the district’s governing board and requires a two-thirds voter approval for passage.
Measure H is another parcel tax that would benefit the Piedmont Unified School District, but would be charged based on building improvements. The measure would establish a tax to be assessed at a maximum rate of 25 cents per square foot on improved buildings. The beneficiaries of the revenue are again Piedmont students for the same basic purposes outlined in Measure G.
Although property tax can be painful to cough up, if the revenue generated helps better prepare students for success, both measures seem worthy of passage.
Endorsements for Measure H and Measure G: Yes.
Contra Costa County
Although the Nov. 5 Special Election ballot will only test voters’ preferences on two localized measures, they’re worth considering.
If passed, Measure L would essentially allow the city of Brentwood to move the Urban Line Limit and develop 2,400 primarily senior housing units — 80 percent — on approximately 555 acres of currently dry-farmed agricultural land. Placed on the ballot by petition, the measure is a matter a major debate in the far East Bay city.
The total area that would be modified spans over 815 acres located on Brentwood’s western border. Developers propose a 20-acre commercial/civic area at the southwestern corner of the area in question that would include agriculture, farm-to-table uses, outdoor amphitheater, wineries, hotel property and nurseries.
I have not followed this measure closely enough to make any recommendations and it appears there’s quite a bit to assess from both proponents and opposition. Although housing is absolutely needed throughout the Bay Area, a pitch made by developers that would drastically change the city’s general plan should be approached with a discerning eye.
Measure H is a tax measure placed on the ballot by the El Cerrito City Council, asking voters to indefinitely extend a parcel tax that would have otherwise expired June 30, 2020. The revenue generated by the tax, originally approved by voters in 2000 as Measure A, has been and would continue to be used to maintain and enhance the city’s parks and recreational facilities.
The initial projects tackled renovation and/or reconstruction of the El Cerrito Swim Center, Canyon Trail Clubhouse and at restrooms in the Harding, Huber and Poinsett Park clubhouses. Additional improvements were made the the Swim Center after completion of the first round.
Councilmembers hope to realize the Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan with revenue provided by the extended parcel tax. The 180 proposed Master Plan projects include a variety of work that will enhance the city’s urban green spaces, playgrounds, facilities for seniors and children, pathways, irrigation systems and much more.
The tax would remain at current levels: $58.46 for single-family properties, $45 per unit at multi-family properties, $410 per acre on nonresidential properties. If approved, the measure is expected to generate $650,000 annually.
El Cerrito is a growing neighborhood that has been steadily absorbing residents priced out of nearby cities. Improving parks and recreational spaces throughout the city seems like a good way to maintain some of El Cerrito’s character and it will enhance life for families who have roots there. Considering property owners are already shelling out the fees, this measure wouldn’t increase financial burden on residents.