An environmentalists-sponsored effort to improve Arizona's planning laws backfired on the November ballot. But Gov. Jane Hull, who handily won another term, has appointed a statewide commission to examine growth management legislation. A measure to impose urban growth boundaries and growth management plans failed to make it to the ballot, but a counter-measure to make it harder to fight development in the state was placed on the ballot and passed. The measure that passed, Proposition 303 or the Growing Smarter Act, also includes $20 million a year to purchase open space in the state for 11 years. It was endorsed by popular Republican Governor Jane Hull. The measure that sparked Proposition 303 was called the Citizens Growth Management Initiative. After failing to gain sufficient signatures for the November 1998 election, backers are now planning to get it on the ballot in 2000. Organizers tried to gather enough signatures to place CGMI on the November 1998 in only a few months, and fell short. But they now plan to begin gathering signatures in January 1999 and have up to 1 1/2 years to place it on the November 2000 ballot, according to Sandy Bahr, conservation director of the state's Sierra Club organization, one of the main organizers of the CGMI campaign. It would have had specific language overturning most of Proposition 303, except for provisions like the money for land acquisition. Proposition 303 was designed to counter every point of the CGMI. It bans state mandates on UGBs, growth management plans that call for mandatory development fees, and mandatory air and water quality controls. It also prohibits the state from requiring street and highway environmental impact reviews. In late November, Hull set up a commission to look at growth in the state and surprised many by directing the commission to look at UGBs. The commission was set up under legislation passed last spring, according to the Arizona Republic. Land-use attorney Steve Betts, who wrote much of Proposition 303, said the City of Flagstaff currently has a UGB and other cities can still adopt UGBs under the proposition. Betts is a member of Hull's Growing Smarter Commission. When Proposition 303 was placed on the ballot, the state legislature did add more requirements for municipal development plans, such as designating specific areas for open space and describing environmental impacts from development, according to the Phoenix newspaper, New Times. The $20 million for land purchases attracted many supporters to Proposition 303, Bahr said, and people voted for it with the idea that a future CGMI would override it. "The one positive thing is that for the first time in Arizona we're seriously looking at the growth issue," Bahr said. Almost half of Arizona's land is owned by the federal government. Much of the rest is state trust land given to Arizona by the federal government at statehood in 1912. This land is sold at auction, with proceeds going to public education and other public institutions. Betts indicated that the governor's commission may consider proposals that could lead to further ballot measures in 2000. "We're maybe in the fourth inning of a nine-inning baseball game," he said. The commission will look at a Colorado initiative that set aside state trust lands there for open space and also at the feasibility of exchanging environmentally sensitive state trust land to the federal government for protection, he said. Sandy Bahr, Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, (602) 253-8633. Steve Betts, Gallagher & Kennedy, (602) 530-8000.