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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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City of Berkeley
Measure LL - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


44,947 votes yes (81.38%)

10,282 votes no (18.62%)

100% of precincts reporting (33/33).

Shall the City's appropriation limit under Article XIIIB of the California Constitution be increased to allow expenditure of the proceeds of City taxes and income from the investment of those taxes for fiscal years 2021 through 2024? Financial Implications: This measure would not increase taxes or impose a new tax. It would authorize the City to continue to spend the proceeds of already-approved taxes for FY 2021 through 2024.

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Impartial analysis / Proposal


Current Law 

Article XIII B of the California Constitution creates an appropriations limit whereby the City cannot authorize expenditure of tax revenues over the amount it spent in the 1986-1987 fiscal year (adjusted for inflation and changes in population).  City voters may, by a majority vote, authorize the City to spend tax revenues beyond this appropriations limit.  

In 2016, Berkeley voters approved a measure allowing the City to spend all revenues from existing taxes.  Under the California Constitution, such a vote can only raise the spending limit for up to four years.  Therefore, the spending increase approved by the voters in 2016 will expire after fiscal year 2020.  If, in a cumulative two-year period, a city exceeds the spending limit without authorization from its voters, the city must return all revenues in excess of the spending limit in the form of reduced taxes or fees over the subsequent two years.  

The Proposed Measure 

This measure would extend the voter-approved spending authorization by an additional four years, thereby allowing the City to continue to appropriate all funds generated by City taxes for fiscal years 2021 through 2024. 

This measure would not increase taxes or create any new taxes.  It would authorize the City to continue to spend the proceeds from existing taxes as well as any income from the investment of the revenues generated by those taxes.   

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

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure LL. 

Financial effect

Mark Numainville, Berkeley City Clerk

This measure would not increase taxes or impose a new tax. It would authorize the City to continue t spe d the proceeds of already- app oved taxes for FY 2021 through 2024.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR


Because of a state mandated ceiling on city expenditures, this ballot measure must come before the voters every four years for approval. Measure LL must pass or city services will be sharply curtailed.  

This measure does not raise taxes. 

During the past decade, the city’s population has grown by more than 11%. We are providing essential services for our expanding population with a smaller city staff. Our citizens want a wide variety of city services and have voted by a two-thirds margin to fund those services during the past two decades. Those tax measures included funding for City libraries (1988), streets (2012), parks (1997 and 2014) Emergency Medical Services (1997), Emergency Services for Severely Disabled Persons (1998), and for keeping fire stations open and improving emergency medical response and disaster preparedness (2008). 

This measure will allow City of Berkeley Departments to continue to provide these important, tax supported community services to our growing population. 

If Measure LL does not pass, the City will lose tens of millions of dollars in voter approved tax revenue, forcing dramatic reductions in landscaping, park maintenance, library services, paramedic and physically disabled services, fire safety, and disaster preparedness. These services impact the quality of life throughout our city.  

Measure LL was placed on the ballot by a unanimous City Council. 

We urge your YES vote. 

s/Jesse Arreguín Mayor, City of Berkeley 

s/Kate Harrison Berkeley City Councilmember 

s/John T Selawsky President, BOLT (Board of Library Trustees) 

s/James McGrath Chair, Parks and Waterfront Commission 

s/Dmitri Belser Executive Director, Center for Accessible Technology 

Arguments AGAINST


GANN Limits are a state constitutional check to rationalize government taxing and spending by limiting to a per capita rate. GANN Limits require that the constituents of a city get reimbursed when excess revenues exist. If this measure is not approved then, in this time of devastating health and financial dangers for most residents, the City might actually have to rebate excess dollars to taxpayers. 

Why doesn’t the City Attorney’s “impartial analysis” create awareness of these basic facts? 

Clearly, the City does not want taxpayers to know how much revenue is moving to the City coffers where it is easily spent and wasted without our knowledge. 

The City misleads the public when they ask you to vote to allow them to spend the proceeds of already approved taxes. Among California cities, Berkeley is at the top level of per capita spending, employees per capita, and local taxation. Now, in a time of devastating health and economic impacts for most of our residents, our officials are trying to raise the tax burden even higher with a series of new tax measures and raises for City Councilmembers! 

It is one thing if our taxes were spent to fix up our streets, parks, Marina, the University Avenue city gateway, and other infrastructure. Instead, the spending increases have mostly gone to prop up the City bureaucracy and its favored constituencies. Despite all the spending, Berkeley's social, physical and economic conditions have palpably worsened. And almost all of the recent “cuts” were of already-vacant employee positions! 

Excess revenues are already accumulating, and that is why the City wants you to allow them to spend it. 

Demand results for all of our tax dollars spent. 

Vote NO on the GANN Appropriations limit increase and on the other new tax measures. 

s/Lilana Spindler 

President, Berkeley for Assessment Tax Equity 

Replies to Arguments FOR


A NO Vote on the GANN Measure will keep the City honest!

The City can and must keep the services you pay for and enjoy at the same level, without this measure. Furthermore, the 11% population increase gives the City an 11% spending limit increase. Rate of growth is built into the state spending formula!

There are ways to stay within state limits.

Last year, the City’s library system took in $4 Million more than they spent. This excess can be spent on the libraries or the tax goes back to the citizens. Yes, that is what the constitution requires if the GANN spending limit is reached.

But, the City wants to spend more, preferring to divert the excesses to higher citywide staff salaries and benefits. Are Berkeley citizens enjoying increased household income during the pandemic?

Most of Berkeley is belt-tightening, and the taxes keep increasing! Tighten even more…three costly taxes for the Berkeley schools will begin in December.

When the proponents say they will lose millions in taxes, this really means they must become accountable to you, the citizen. Why is the City so loathe to spend revenues for their specified purposes, when this is the right thing to do?

The 11 Harmed Homeowners have pondered this very question. Their homes have been overcharged for these taxes for years yet are denied a correction.

We want to see our tax dollars used for their intended purposes or refunded as the law requires.

Vote NO on the GANN Measure.

s/Lilana Spindler president, Berkeley for Assessment Tax Equity

s/Laura Menard

s/Chris Catletts

s/Orlando Martinez s/Jay Tharp

Replies to Arguments AGAINST


Vote Yes on Measure LL to prevent devastating cuts to essential, lifeline services.

The passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 had immediate negative impacts on funding for schools, public safety and other essential services. A vestige of the Prop 13 era is the requirement that every four years, voters have to reauthorize the expenditure of previously approved taxes.

Our citizens have voted by a two-thirds margin to fund a variety of city services over the past two decades. Those tax measures included funding for our libraries (1988), street repair (2012), parks (1997 and 2014), Emergency Medical Services (1997), Emergency Services for Severely Disabled Persons (1998) and keeping our fire stations open, improving emergency response and disaster preparedness (2008). These are special taxes for specific purposes and cannot be spent on salaries or other projects.

Now the opponents of Measure LL are trying to undo the will of the voters and prevent us from spending tax revenues you already authorized.

Imagine if one day - the library closed, your fire station wasn’t open, and persons with disabilities couldn’t get the care they need. This could happen if Measure LL fails to pass.

Don’t let the anti-tax crowd starve our city of essential services in an emergency.


s/Jesse Arreguín Berkeley Mayor

s/Susan Wengraf

City Councilmember

s/Gordon Wozniak

Parks and Recreation Commissioner, former City Councilmember

s/Diane Lee Davenport

Board of Library Trustees, Retired BPL Librarian

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