PIEDMONT -- Piedmont voters have rejected Measure H, with all six precincts reporting Tuesday evening.
The measure asked whether or not to approve the sale of up to $13.5 million in bonds by the Piedmont Unified School District to finance renovations and upgrades to the aging Alan Harvey Theater. Measure H needed 55 percent of the vote to pass. The measure failed with 51.4 percent of the vote.
There were supporters and detractors to the measure, with letters to media outlets taking both positions.
Supporters said the 40-year-old theater is sorely in need of repairs and is heavily used as a classroom, auditorium and performing arts facility. They said the theater has fire and life safety issues and does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
Approval of Measure H would have provided ADA accessibility to seating, restrooms, orchestra and classrooms. It would upgrade mechanical, electrical and utility systems, upgrade classroom space and improve energy efficiency with lighting and sound.
The measure was endorsed by all of the Piedmont schools' parent clubs, several former mayors and the current school board and Piedmont City Council.
Opponents said voters are being asked to pay too much for what they are getting. They contended the proposed renovation does not address some basic theatrical elements such as a rigging system for hoisting equipment safely between scenes and storage space for reusable sets. They also said that "scare tactics" were being used to promote approval of the measure, that the existing facility does allow ADA access to the stage, dressing rooms and seating, and that a ramp could be installed for improved ADA access.
Supporters maintain that every penny of the bond measure stays in Piedmont.
The tax rate to homeowners for the first fiscal year, 2014-15 is estimated at $17 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, with many Piedmont homes valued at $900,000 and up.
The district expected to repay the bonds in 13 years. The project would have been funded through a combination of private donations, state matching funds and a Prop. 30 general obligation school bond. About $500,000 was raised privately to fund design development documents for the project before the election.
During the seismic evaluation of all schools and facilities within the district, Alan Harvey Theater was not deemed a hazard to collapse during an earthquake.