Santa Paula Times

Measure L-6, Let the Voters Decide!

October 06, 2006
Opinion By John Wisda
The election process by which we elect our council members is known as an “at large” election. Nonpartisan candidates are elected to act on issues that affect us all. In November, we will choose three new council members out of eight candidates. New councilpersons have the responsibility to weigh all issues in context with the benefits for the majority of the community. The proposed development of Fagan Canyon not only challenged our rural atmosphere, it also challenged our form of “at large” government. The city council misread the diverse public opinion. Special interest groups surfaced. The legal power of the city was used against those with opposing views. Our city government came extremely close to making the wrong decision for the majority of voters. Measure L-6 guarantees that this will not happen again.First of all, Measure L-6 will open up the community dialogue. When Fagan development was introduced, our city council chose not to comment publicly until the EIR was finished. The council tied their own hands for almost a year. Under Measure L-6, the council could speak out and debate their own views openly because everyone votes, not just them. The council could take an open active leadership role rather than a passive role.Second, Measure L-6 will end the rancor. There will always be differences of opinion and diversity which overall is healthy. Measure L-6 will eliminate the confrontational aspect of gathering signatures and counter protests. The three main growth areas are no secret and have already been defined. It would be nice to debate pros and cons of large development on a level playing field and have majority of the community rule the outcome.Third, Measure L-6 is good for smart growth. It gives voters the confidence to approve the CURB line expansions in Adams Canyon and East Area One. The voters are guaranteed the final say. If the developers change their plans to a higher density once inside the city limits, the voters would vote again - not the city council.Fourth, Measure L-6 will reduce costs for potential developers. Take Centex as an example: Under L-6, Centex could have first submitted an initiative to change the general plan from 450 units to 2100 units. Suppose 2100 units were approved by the voters. Centex would then hold Charrettes to design the best project for the city. Measure L-6 would have saved Centex the cost of the charrettes and specific site plan until after the 2100 units were approved. If Centex later were to change the number from 2100 to 2500, Measure L-6 would require another vote.Currently, Adams Canyon is proposing an April 2007 initiative to design the changes in the general plan to build 495 upscale houses and move the western CURB line. Specific new general plan guidelines would be put into place as part of that SOAR vote. If Adams Canyon then decides to increase density above 495 units after the CURB line is moved, under L-6, voters would vote again - not the city council.East Area One is also proposing a general plan amendment for an increased number of units and moving the eastern CURB line. The developer wants to increase the general plan to about 1500 units. This SOAR vote is the main vote to determine the size. Measure L-6 would give voters the confidence to approve the extension. If the developer were to change their plan later and increase density, under L-6, the voters would vote again - not the city council.
As for Fagan Canyon, which is already inside the CURB line, any potential developer could go through the same process of submitting an initiative for a general plan change. This initial vote will determine the size and scope. Once voted on and approved, if density is increased later, under L-6, voters will vote again - not the city council.If SOAR voters don’t want any CURB expansions, they can still vote against them. Measure L-6 does not affect the initial process of deciding whether to grow or not. Developers can propose anything they want. Measure L-6 will not change the process of submitting site plans and an EIR. If there is no change in the density of a project larger than 80 acres, Measure L-6 does not apply.A vote for Measure L-6 is for your right to have the final vote. Measure L-6 eliminates any city council mistakes and neutralizes special interest agendas. Large developments affect everyone in the community. Measure L-6 makes the large developments stick to the voter approved general plan, that’s all. Your vote is powerful! Let your vote decide too!There are three city council candidates who support Measure L-6. Their open endorsement shows the good faith commitment to represent the majority of our community. They are: Bob Gonzales, Ralph Fernandez, and Fred Robinson.