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New: 2012 Election in Berkeley: Student Votes Help Defeat Measure S

By Rob Wrenn
Friday November 23, 2012 - 12:12:00 PM

Measure S, which would have prohibited sitting on sidewalks in Berkeley’s Commercial Districts from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., was the hottest issue on this year’s presidential election ballot in Berkeley.

The measure failed with 25,523 voters, 47.7%, voting Yes, and 27,981 or 52.3% voting No. More people cast votes pro or con S than cast votes for a mayoral candidate. 88.4% of the 60,559 ballots cast in Berkeley contained votes on the measure, a high percentage for a Berkeley ballot measure.

UC Students played a major role in defeating the measure. In thirteen near-campus precincts (consolidated down to seven in this year’s election), 70% voted against the measure, and a bit over half the citywide margin of defeat came from these precincts. 


Measure S Anti-Sitting 





Vote Margin for No 



District 1 



District 2 



District 3 



District 4 



District 5 



District 6 



District 7 



District 8 









13 student 






Note: These13 student precincts were consolidated into 7 for this election. They include all but one UC dorm, northside and southside coops, fraternities, sororities, and some apartments.I estimate that at least 90% of votes in these combined precincts were cast by students. 

Thousands more students voted in other precincts with more of a mix of non-student voters. 

These precincts include all but one of UC’s dormitories in Berkeley, and include student coops on the Northside and southside of Campus, and fraternities and sororities, along with some apartment buildings north of Dwight Way largely occupied by students. 

While students who vote often don’t vote the whole ballot, only 21% of the voters in the thirteen student precincts failed to vote on Measure S. By contrast 40% of these voters didn’t vote on Measure T, the West Berkeley rezoning measure. 

While students played a major role in Measure S’s defeat, it should be noted that geographically oppostion to the measure was very broad: the measure failed in 68 of the 101 precincts reporting this year, losing throughout the flatlands south of Cedar Street. 

Measure S failed in every precinct near the commercial streets where sitting on the sidewalk is most prevalent. Voters in every precinct bordering Telegraph Avenue and every precinct bordering Shattuck Avenue between Rose Street and the Oakland border voted No. 

Measure S got its greatest support from precincts in the Northeast Berkeley hills in District 6 where the measure gained over 60% support in six precincts, and in the hills above Claremont Avenue in District 8 where it got over 70% in two precincts. 

In District 8, the student and tenant vote in the northern part of the district largely negated this hills vote. The Measure passed by only 6 votes in District 8. 

In addition to Mayor Bates, three councilmembers endorsed Measure S: Laurie Capitelli of District 5; Susan Wengraf of District 6 and Gordon Wozniak of District 8. Their districts were the only districts to favor the measure. In Mayor Bates’ precinct in the LeConte neighborhood between Telegraph and Shattuck, 64% vote against the measure. 

Measure S was opposed by Max Anderson, who represents District 3 (South Berkeley); by Jesse Arreguin, District 4 (Downtown and Central Berkeley); and by Kriss Worthington, District 7 (Telegraph area). 60% of District 3’s residents voted No, as did 57% in District 4 and 63% in student-rich District 7. 

Two councilmembers, Linda Maio in District 1 (northwest Berkeley) and Darryl Moore in District 2 (southwest Berkeley) voted to put the measure on the ballot, but did not endorse the measure. District 1 and 2 voters rejected S by 54% and 56% respectively. 

The division between “moderate” voters in the hills and “progressive” voters in the rest of the city is nothing new. In the 1994 election Berkeley voters supported Measure O to ban sitting and lying on sidewalks in commercial zones. It passed citywide by a 54% to 46% margin. After passage it was immediately challenged in court and the anti-sitting provisions never took effect. 

Measure O also won in Districts 5, 6 and 8 and lost in the city’s other districts. But this year, things were different. Support in the hills was weaker than in 1994 and opposition was stronger in West Berkeley and South Berkeley and much stronger this year in Downtown and near campus precincts. 

Measure S supporters waged a strong campaign. By election day, the Coalition for Berkeley Civil Sidewalks, Yes on S, had raised $103,213.42, much more than was raised to support or oppose any other measure on this year’s ballot. Developers and owners of commercial property, such as Panoramic Interests and Rue-ell Enterprises, provided a majority of the funding for the pro-S campaign. Some of this money went to pay for 3 mailers sent to Berkeley voters. 

Opponents of Measure S, by contrast, received only $16,182.66 in contributions according to their October filing. They reported mailing one mailer to voters. Filings by candidates and campaigns can be viewed here on the City’s Web site