BERKELEY -- Though some votes remain yet uncounted, results from Tuesday's polls appear to have awarded a narrow loss to the city's most controversial measures, including the contentious sit-lie ordinance.
Less certain is the fate of Measure T, which would alter zoning laws in West Berkeley to allow for flexible development and construction of 75-foot tall buildings.
Measure S, which sought to ban sitting and lying on commercial sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. was hotly debated in the months leading up to the election.
Osha Neumann, chair of the Committee against Measure S, called the measure's defeat "a vindication of common sense and decency."
John Caner, a lead organizer of Yes on S and the CEO of Berkeley's downtown business association, was not yet ready to concede the defeat of Measure S.
"There are at least 20,000 votes that have yet to be counted," he said. "Obviously, we have to close a gap of over a thousand votes, but the outcome's uncertain."
Craig Becker, the owner of Caffe Mediterraneum and supporter of Measure S, was less optimistic about the measure, but he said their goal was accomplished nonetheless.
"I'm glad we got our message out," Becker said. "I think we did a really a good job of educating people about the concerns of the merchants, and how we want to be able to have inviting public spaces."
While Becker would like to see the discussion following the election move toward alternatives
"I hope we put a stake into this that will stick," Neumann said. "It is really a stain on Berkeley's reputation as a progressive city."
Measure T proved to be just as divisive, with supporters and critics accusing each other of lying to voters. Mayor Tom Bates, who supported the measure, said it was "the most scurrilous campaign he had ever seen in Berkeley."
Daryll Moore, who won re-election to District 2 where Measure T would have effect, said close margins at the polls indicated the complexity of the measure.
"I believe that those who are against Measure T campaigned in such a way as to confuse a lot of the voters about the merits of the measure" Moore said.
With more votes coming in, Moore said he hoped Measure T might still pass.
Councilmember Jesse Arreguín, who campaigned against the measure, argued that the most problematic aspect of the measure was that it conferred economic benefits to people who wanted to develop in West Berkeley without guaranteeing any specific benefit to the community of people who live there.
"I think this is an opportunity to develop a compromise," Arreguín said.
Less heated were the mayoral and City Council races, where incumbents reigned and Bates secured a fourth term by winning over 50 percent of the votes. Moore of District 2, Max Anderson of District 3, and Laurie Capitelli of District 5 also succeeded against challengers in winning re-election. Susan Wengraf ran unopposed.
"Getting 55 percent of the vote is a wonderful mandate for me," Bates said. "It says that people like what I'm doing and want me to continue serving as mayor."
Bates, who has held the position since 2002, faced for the first time a ranked-choice voting system, in which three of his five opponents -- Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Jacquelyn McCormick, and Councilman Kriss Worthington -- had created a coalition aimed at defeating him by urging supporters to consider one another as their first, second, and third choices.
When asked if this would be his last term as mayor, Mayor Bates stuck to the adage: "never say never."
"That'd make me a lame duck," he added, laughing. "I'd rather be a flying eagle than a lame duck."
See insidebayarea.com for the latest results