Berkeley Measure KK may allow NIMBYs to block BRT
- Published Tuesday, October 14, 2008, by the UCB Daily Californian
Measure Would Take Bus Lane Plan Directly to the Voters
By Deepti Arora
While residents have been fighting a plan to create dedicated bus
lanes on Telegraph Avenue in the City Council chambers for months,
some hope a plan to put the issue before voters will give residents
the final say.
If passed by 50 percent of Berkeley voters, Measure KK would give
residents the power to issue an up or down vote on a regional plan to
designate a lane specifically for buses and high-occupancy vehicles.
Opponents of the plan, which will include lanes on Telegraph, Solano,
University and Shattuck avenues, say dedicated bus lanes will harm
businesses by eliminating parking spots and increasing congestion.
Traditionally, the City Council would decide how the plan would be
implemented in Berkeley, which they will still do if the measure
fails in November.
Members of the council voted unanimously in early October to oppose
the measure, saying it would lead to inefficiency and inappropriately
bypass the council's authority.
"I think it's very poor public policy," said Councilmember Max
Anderson. "I think we have a representative democracy here and people
elected us to make decisions while giving the public a chance to
But measure supporter Karl Reeh, the president of the Le Conte
Neighborhood Association, said people affected by the bus lanes
should be able to decide on the plan.
He pointed to a petition drafted by supporters that includes more
than 3,000 signatures from Berkeley residents who support the
"If KK passes then the people will at least have more say in the
final decision, but if it doesn't pass, then the council will approve
it the way the bus system wants it," he said. "We have discussed the
issue for the last year and a half and we realize that we'll be the
ones most immediately affected in this part of the city, and no one
is representing us."
Members of the council stress that they also have concerns about the
plan, but that giving more direct say to voters will create undue
"It's cumbersome, long and drawn-out and expensive," said
Councilmember Linda Maio. "It's not the way to make policy. We have
a very extensive review process for everything we do, and that's the
place where we get in and figure out what will work and what will
Organizations like the Sierra Club and the Berkeley-Friendly Bicycle
Coalition also do not support the measure, claiming that it would set
up a roadblock to changes in the transit system that would benefit
"In this era, we have global warming increasing and we need to do
something major to cut down on greenhouse gas," said Helen Burke,
the vice-chair of the Northern Alameda County Group of the Sierra
Club. "Nearly 50 percent of Berkeley's greenhouse gases come from
private automobiles. (The bus plan) would provide an attractive,
reliable, fast form of transportation."
What it Means
Yes on Proposition KK -- the public will vote in a later election
whether to allow a designated bus lane on major streets like
Telegraph and Shattuck avenues.
No on Proposition KK -- the City Council will decide the details of
a Bus Rapid Transit Plan with input from the public, but the issue
will not go to a general vote.