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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of Berkeley
Measure GG - Majority 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

Passed

34,001 votes yes (58.78%)

23,842 votes no (41.22%)

100% of precincts reporting (33/33).

Shall an ordinance enacting a tax on users of Transportation Network Companies for prearranged trips originating in Berkeley, at a rate of 50 cents per trip for private trips and 25 cents per trip for pooled trips, regardless of the number of passengers on the trip, which is estimated to generate $910,000 annually for general municipal services in the City of Berkeley until January 1, 2041, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

FARIMAH FAIZ BROWN Berkeley City Attorney

CITY ATTORNEY’S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE GG 

This measure was placed on the ballot by the City Council. 

The measure would impose a general tax on Transportation Network Company (“TNC”) trips that originate in City of Berkeley. Commonly referred to as “ridesharing companies,” TNCs are companies that enable passengers to prearrange transportation with a driver using an online-enabled application software, website or other system. Users of TNCs would pay a tax of 50 cents for a private trip and 25 cents for a pooled trip, regardless of the total number of passengers. Users would pay the tax to the TNC at the time of payment for the trip, and the TNC would remit the tax quarterly to the City of Berkeley. A pooled trip is one in which the person requesting the trip agrees to share the trip with other potential passengers who are also willing to share a trip.  A lower fare is generally charged for these trips.  A private trip is one in which the person requesting the trip will not be sharing the trip with anyone other than their own guests. Drivers would not be required to pay City of Berkeley business license fees while the tax is in effect. 

Each TNC would be required to register with the City’s Finance Department and would be liable to the City for the amount of tax due.  The measure would impose penalties and interest on a TNC that fails to remit the tax in a timely manner.   

The tax would not apply to 

• trips paid or reimbursed by a state or federal government healthcare payor, including trips paid for or reimbursed under Medi-Cal

• trips in Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles as defined by state law.

The City Council could increase the tax annually by the increase in the local cost of living or the per capita personal income growth in the state, whichever is greater.  The City Council could also adopt by ordinance additional exemptions, waivers, discounts, or rebates for the tax, such as discounted or free trips for low-income individuals or youth traveling to or from school.  The City Council could adopt regulations and procedures for implementing the tax, including any exemptions and tax rate reductions. The City Council could reduce or eliminate the tax without further voter approval.  

The measure shall pass if approved by a majority of the voters voting on the measure and would go into effect on January 1, 2021. The tax would remain in effect for 20 years, expiring on January 1, 2041. 

Financial implications 

The tax is estimated to generate $910,000 annually. The revenues from the tax may be used to fund any municipal governmental purpose. 

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure GG.

s/FARIMAH BROWN Berkeley City Attorney 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE GG 

Vote YES on Measure GG to create safer streets and ensure tax fairness. 

For too long, Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft have not paid their fair share. This is hurting public transit, damaging our streets, and endangering pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. It’s time to take action.  

According to a 2019 study, between 2010 and 2016, congestion increased by 60% in San Francisco due to Transportation Network Companies.  

Measure GG will help us mitigate the impacts of rideshare companies, who unlike most businesses including taxis, currently pay nothing for the right to operate in Berkeley despite contributing to traffic, congestion, and street erosion. 

Measure GG establishes a 50 cent fee for each rideshare trip, generating General Fund revenue to improve Berkeley’s streets, safety and environment.  

Measure GG does not raise property taxes or sales taxes paid by everyday Berkeleyans. For those who choose rideshare, the fee encourages them to limit their environmental impact by utilizing shared rides through a discounted fee of 25 cents.  

Measure GG will: 

● Encourage more shared rides through a discounted fee. This will help reduce trips and our carbon emissions.

● Offer exemptions for healthcare workers and vehicles that are wheelchair accessible.

● Allow the Council to adopt further exemptions, waivers or discounts including those for low-income discount programs, free or donated trips, youth programs and more.

● Generate at least $900,000 annually to support general municipal services like paving streets and improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

Measure GG is endorsed by a broad coalition of elected officials, environmental organizations, and transit, bike and pedestrian advocates.  

VOTE YES ON MEASURE GG. 

s/Igor A. Tregub Chair, Sierra Club Northern Alameda County Group 

s/Jesse Arreguín Berkeley Mayor 

s/Liza Lutzker Walk Bike Berkeley 

s/Lori Droste City Councilmember 

Arguments AGAINST

ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE GG 

Vote NO on DECEPTIVE Taxes.  

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, provide Berkeley residents and visitors with affordable, convenient, and quick mobility, especially useful where walking, biking, driving and transit won’t work.  TNCs allow residents in the hills and other less walkable areas to abstain from driving (or even owning a car).  They bring visitors to Berkeley who don’t need to rent - and park - a car.  They can reduce parking, and congestion, from “driving around the block” trying to find parking. 

But the City deceptively tells us that TNCs do not pay their share of street maintenance.  TNCs do pay for City street repairs, the same as anyone else.  We all buy gasoline and pay State gas tax and sales tax on the gasoline and autos, which is then distributed by the State to cities for street repairs. The TNCs buy more gasoline than anyone else and therefore pay more road taxes than anyone else.   

The problem with Berkeley’s streets is that the City diverts street paving funds away from the paving budget.  Don’t blame Transportation Network Companies for Berkeley’s bad streets.  The Berkeley City Council fails to budget enough funds for good maintenance.  In fact, in 2018, Berkeley DIDN’T PAVE A SINGLE STREET.   

Don’t let Berkeley expand its bureaucracy to oversee another tax bringing in less than $1 million per year, an amount that wouldn’t even repave a single street mile.  Don’t approve a 20-year DECEPTIVE tax with NO accountability for street maintenance.  This new Tax will require the City to hire lots more bureaucrats to keep track of all those trips and make Berkeley’s Pension deficit even worse. Don’t scapegoat Uber/Lyft passengers AND DRIVERS for Berkeley’s financial mess.   

Vote No! on this TAX GRAB. 

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

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE GG 

Here is what the tax proponents should say: ‘Berkeley wants more money because pension liabilities continue to grow.  Therefore, Berkeley is picking on Uber & Lyft and trying to copy San Francisco’s tax, even though our tax is more regressive and will not have any accountability nor dedicate any money for infrastructure.’ 

Look at the argument again – there are very few relevant facts in their argument. 

1) The TNCs pay gas taxes like everyone else, hence they do pay their “fair share.”

2) Transit (i.e. AC transit and BART) is only being “hurt” because of the virus and because TNCs provide more useful service for some people, not because Berkeley doesn’t have enough revenue.

3) Berkeley is not San Francisco, and SF’s congestion is irrelevant to ours.

4) This tax will NOT encourage ridesharing because this measure makes it MORE expensive, not less.

5) This Tax MIGHT “support general municipal services like paving streets and improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure,” but it could also pay for “raises for the city council, firefighter pensions and shadow studies.” The money can go anywhere.

Our city may not even have the legal right to tax the TNCs, and if GG passes, we are likely to get sued (SF needed a state law to tax the TNCs: google AB1184 TNC). 

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

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE GG 

Don’t be fooled by a right-wing anti-tax group that always opposes local tax measures. 

Measure GG is about making sure large corporations are paying their fair share and addressing the impact on our streets and environment.

Too often we see Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) blocking bike lanes, causing backups on our streets, and polluting our air. According to a 2019 study, between 2010 and 2016, congestion increased by 60% in San Francisco due to TNCs. 

Our local transit agencies are struggling to survive, while TNCs are profiting, taking advantage of the people that drive for them, and contributing zero to offset their impacts. 

Despite what opponents claim, since 2016, Berkeley has paved approximately 27 miles of streets, including key projects such as reconfiguring Shattuck Avenue, reconstructing 6th Street and repaving Milvia Street. Over the next four years, the city will spend $43 million to pave 20 miles of streets, the bulk of which are residential. Gas taxes are not enough to keep up with the damage to our streets caused by TNCs. 

Under Measure GG, rideshare companies would remit tax directly to Berkeley on a quarterly basis as they have done in other cities. And it won't require a huge bureaucracy. 

Measure GG exempts drivers from business taxes, and users would be exempt from paying the tax for medical trips, and in wheelchair accessible vehicles. It also allows Council to adopt further reductions and exemptions which is important as the tech industry and our community continues to grow. 

VOTE YES ON MEASURE GG 

s/Igor A. Tregub Chair, Sierra Club Northern Alameda County Group 

s/Jesse Arreguín Berkeley Mayor 

s/Rigel Robinson Berkeley City Councilmember, District 7 

s/Ben Gerhardstein Coordinating Committee Member, Walk Bike Berkeley 

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