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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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City of Berkeley
Measure FF Parcel Tax - 2/3 Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


43,756 votes yes (74.19%)

15,221 votes no (25.81%)

100% of precincts reporting (33/33).

Shall an ordinance enacting a tax at a rate of $0.1047 per square foot of improvements, which is estimated to generate $8.5 million annually for firefighting, emergency medical response, 9-1-1 communications services, hazard mitigation, and wildfire prevention and preparedness, until repealed by the voters, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR


Vote YES on Measure FF to keep Berkeley safe by improving 911 dispatch, emergency warning and ambulance services and strengthening programs to plan for and respond to catastrophic wildfires, earthquakes and other emergencies.  

Berkeley’s emergency medical, fire and ambulance capabilities must be expanded to meet 21st century challenges. 911 calls have grown dramatically in Berkeley, more than doubling over the last 25 years. To meet these needs, we need modern equipment, new technology, and additional firefighters and paramedics. 

Our population is aging, and closure of Alta Bates Hospital will require patients to be transported further away, tying up ambulances and staff. Alameda County cut funding for first responder and ambulance calls, and COVID-19 has reduced revenues at a time when emergency and mental health services are in higher demand.  

With climate change, fires are burning with greater intensity, blowing embers and burning neighborhoods far from front lines. Earthquakes remain a danger, with the Hayward Fault overdue for a major event. Berkeley must be prepared to manage these multiple emergencies simultaneously. 

Measure FF is critical for funding additional ambulances and emergency life-saving services, more effective 911 response, better warning and communication systems, and wildfire and disaster prevention and response.  

Measure FF will help Berkeley: 

1. Implement state-of-the-art 911 dispatch systems to insure rapid assistance to emergency calls.

2. Increase ambulance and paramedic capacity, to better meet the needs of all residents, including our most vulnerable.

3. Strengthen wildfire, earthquake and other disaster prevention and preparedness with new, expanded emergency warning systems, fire fuel reduction and evacuation planning.

Measure FF is a necessary and responsible measure to meet Berkeley’s urgent fire and emergency response, communications, and disaster preparedness needs.  

The Mayor and City Council unanimously placed this measure on the ballot. 

Join elected leaders, firefighters, paramedics and seniors to vote YES on Measure FF, for a safe and resilient Berkeley. 

s/Nancy Skinner State Senator 

s/Jesse Arreguín Berkeley Mayor 

s/Sophie Hahn Berkeley Vice Mayor and Councilmember 

s/Susan Wengraf Berkeley City Councilmember 

s/Justin Ironside President, Berkeley Firefighters Association Local 1227 

Arguments AGAINST


This is a TERRIBLE time to double taxes for struggling taxpayers. 

Berkeley Taxpayers already give the Fire Department $8 Million/ year with three assessments for Fire and Paramedic. Now the City wants to DOUBLE those assessments to $16 Million in the middle of the Covid 19-related recession! 

Berkeley Taxpayers ALREADY pay for Fire and Paramedic with Measure GG since 2008.  The City FAILED to set aside funds for a disaster.  The City needs to provide accountability!  

Another glaring problem with this tax is that the City insists on the continued use of the faulty dwelling square footage database to do the calculations.  The City Council knows the ongoing property assessments are WRONG and refuses to correct them.  Many property assessments are astonishingly wrong!   The Average taxpayers should not subsidize mansions or landlords.  

Worst of all, this expensive tax does not guarantee the vulnerable public with promised benefits.  This Measure admits that the purpose of this TAX will be changed.  Berkeley’s BIG Problem is Pension Deficits.  The City reserves the right to divert this tax to its Pension Funds.  In a short time, the City WILL divert this tax to unfunded Pensions.  

The Measure’s promise of accountability is deceptive.  Empty promises cannot overcome the Measure’s own THREAT that the City can change the purpose to ANYTHING, regardless of wildfire prevention.   

Demand honest and accountable taxation. 

s/Marcus Crawley President of Alameda County Taxpayers Association, Inc. 

s/Thomas Rubin Vice President of Alameda County Taxpayers Association, Inc. 

s/Damian Park Berkeley voter 

s/David Denton Berkeley voter 

s/Laura Menard Berkeley voter 

Replies to Arguments FOR


This Measure fails to guarantee that the Tax SHALL be spent on delivering the listed benefits.  The Proponents enumerate all the benefits that citizens MIGHT receive.  They list the ‘Emergency’ needs that citizens actually have.  However, the Proponents fail to even promise that the taxes will be spent on the listed benefits.  The best the Proponents can promise is that these new taxes ‘will help’ provide beneficial services. 

The Measure has set up the classic ‘bait & switch’ scheme.  The Measure and the Proponents have identified services that the public wants.  The voters are left to assume that the City’s statement of the need is the same as the City’s promise to fulfill that need.  Don’t be FOOLED.  The Tax Measure does NOT promise to fulfill the NEED and the Proponents don’t promise delivery either. 

Be realistic.  The City can’t afford to deliver these services and catch up with the out-of-control pension costs.  Berkeley’s Fiscal Report states that the City increased expenses last year by $27.9 million primarily due to salaries and benefits.   Voters will not approve ‘more taxes for the Bureaucrat’s benefit package.’  So, Proponents are going the next best thing; trying to FOOL the voters with empty promises. 

Voters can be certain that they are being BAMBOOZLED by the Proponents of this New Tax because the Proponents never mentioned the BIGGEST financial problem: Pensions.  Pensions are the reason that the City needs more and more money to deliver basic services. 

Just Vote NO! 

s/Marcus Crawley President – Alameda County Taxpayers Assoc., Inc. 

s/Damian Park Berkeley Voter 

s/Orlando Martinez Berkeley Voter 

s/David Denton Berkeley Voter 

s/Laura Minard Berkeley Voter 

Replies to Arguments AGAINST


Measure FF’s small group of opponents, affiliated with an out-of-town anti-tax organization, are either confused or intentionally misleading voters. Measure FF is a special tax that can only be used for fire and emergency services, not for pensions or anything else that isn’t described in the Measure.  

Since voters approved Measure GG in 2008 - preventing fire station closures and cuts to services – Berkeley’s emergency and fire needs have increased: 

  • Calls to 911 have continued to rise dramatically, even before COVID-19, adding stress to aging systems and equipment.
  • Alameda County cut millions of dollars to Berkeley for emergency response.
  • Sutter Health’s plan to close Alta Bates Hospital increases resources needed to transport the sick and injured to emergency rooms.
  • Climate change continues unabated, accelerating the threat of catastrophic wildfires.

Measure FF uses standard property assessment methodologies, exempting qualified low-income homeowners.  

Measure FF can ONLY be used to enhance public safety and will fund: 

  • Firefighter and emergency medical response, by hiring and training personnel and upgrading safety equipment and facilities.
  • Modernizing the 9-1-1 dispatch system.
  • Wildfire prevention and preparedness, including vegetation management, hazard mitigation, evacuation planning, and emergency alert systems.

Measure FF is an important investment to ensure your safety in the face of expanded needs and rising threats. All funds will be used to support our urgent fire and emergency response, communications, and disaster preparedness needs. 

Don’t be misled. Join trusted leaders, firefighters, medical personnel, and disaster preparedness volunteers to Vote YES on Measure FF.  

s/Gradiva Couzin Chair, Berkeley Disaster & Fire Safety Commission 

s/Robert Flasher Berkeley Disaster & Fire Safety Commissioner 

s/Kate Harrison Berkeley City Councilmember 

s/Ben Bartlett Berkeley City Councilmember 

s/Colin Arnold Vice-President, Berkeley Firefighters Association Local 1227 


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