Berkeley pool measure loses

June 9, 2010 2:03:20 PM PDT
A Berkeley parcel tax measure that would have floated $22.5 million in bonds to improve the city's pools received 60.4 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election but fell short of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass, according to complete unofficial results.

Supporters of Measure C said in their ballot argument that Berkeley's municipal swimming pools are a treasure but badly need to be renovated because they are deteriorating and are nearing the end of their useful lives.

They said children, families, the disabled and the elderly rely on the pools for revival, relaxation, exercise and swimming instruction.

The measure would have renovated the Willard and West Campus pools, relocated the warm water pool, which is now at Berkeley High and is slated for demolition next year, and build a new competitive pool at King Middle School. The measure also would pay for maintaining and operating all four pools.

But opponents, such as anti-tax groups and some neighborhood groups, said the city can't afford the measure and there are more cost-effective alternatives.

Marie Bowman of Berkeleyans Against Soaring Taxes, or BASTA, said the city's finances already are stretched too thin, as it faces a $14 million deficit next year, and $20 million in new taxes were added last year.

Bowman said rehabilitating existing pools can be done at one-third the cost of the bond measure and paying for memberships for pools at the YMCA or the University of California at Berkeley would only cost about 1 percent of the money that the measure would pay for maintenance.

However, supporters of Measure C said that it will lower, not raise, maintenance costs through modernization and energy efficiency and that the city's debt isn't skyrocketing because the City Council is making budget cuts.

In Pleasanton, voters strongly rejected a development plan for the Oak Grove area in the hills in the southeast side of the city.

Only 45.7 percent of voters supported Measure D and 54.3 percent opposed it.

Supporters said the development is within the city's urban growth boundary and is designated residential in its general plan. The plan would have created 51 lots for luxury custom homes on a 562-acre site and had been approved by the City Council.

Supporters said the home sites were designed to fit within the existing trees and topography, shielding most of the homes from view and eliminating the need to remove oak trees and provide nearly 500 acres of open, natural, parkland and protect the most visible ridgeline in perpetuity.

They also said it would bring increased tax revenue to the city.

But opponents said the development would have violated the spirit of a measure passed in November 2008 that imposed new ridgeline protections.

They said voting against Measure D is the final step to protecting the natural beauty of the city's hills.

Voters in the Alameda County part of the Lammersville Joint Unified School District approved combining a portion of the Tracy Joint Unified School District and the Lammersville Elementary School District.

Voters in the Mountain House area of Alameda County voted in favor of Measure A by a margin of 19 to 5. Measure A also was approved by voters in rural Tracy in San Joaquin County.

The unification of the districts will result in the formation of the Lammersville Joint Unified School District.

The district will have a five-member board elected at large, but the Mountain House Elementary School District will be permitted to continue to exist as an independent elementary school district.

Voters in the Alameda County portion of the Bethany Irrigation District, which also includes parts of Contra Costa and San Joaquin counties, unanimously approved reducing the number of divisions within the district from nine to seven as well as reducing the number of directors.

Supporters of Measure B said those steps will save $48,000 a year.

Voters in the Alameda County part of the district approved Measure B 10 to 0. Measure B was also approved by voters in Contra Costa County, according to the unofficial results.


Load Comments