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Post-Election Update: State, Local Ballots Abound with Land Use Measures

Collectively, ballots that California voters will cast Nov. 2 encompass a representative sample of the usual land use questions that California cities and counties face on a regular basis. Local voters will decide on everything from urban growth boundaries to downtown plans to specific projects. But, however strong local passions may be, the statewide ballot also includes potential whoppers on major issues like redevelopment funding, climate change, and the survival of state parks.

Updated as of November 3 with most current results. 

STATE PROPOSITIONS

Prop 19: Permits Local Governments to Regulate and Tax Commercial Production, Distribution, and Sale of Marijuana

Failed, 46% - 54%

 Although not technically a land use law, California's now infamous Prop 19 has implications for land use because it gives local authorities nearly limitless discretion over the sale of marijuana. Localities would be allowed to do everything from ban it outright to approve its cultivation and use in semi-public places. Proponents in some cities, notably Oakland and the towns of Humboldt County, hope to integrate marijuana distribution and use into their respective urban fabrics through cafes and even bed-and-breakfast hotels (See CP&DR Vol. 25, No. 12, July 1, 2010). If Prop 19 passes a limited number of cities and neighborhoods could compete to become the "Amsterdam of California" and attract tourists and visitors from localities where marijuana is more strictly regulated.

Prop 21: Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs

Failed, 42% - 58%

Among the many casualties of the state's fiscal crisis, the State Parks system has been hit hard and palpably. Many parks are crumbling and have faced the threat of being shut down. While opponents object to the levying of a fee on autos, proponents note that, beyond the parks' value as environmental assets, the parks system generates significant economic activity in the state.

Prop 22: Prohibits the State from Borrowing or Taking Funds used for Transportation, Redevelopment, or Local Government Projects and Services

Approved, 61% - 39%

One of the more sweeping measures to secure local funding in recent memory, Prop 22 would prohibit diversions of local transportation and redevelopment funding to fill state budget shortfalls, when the state is determined to be in a fiscal emergency. Most recently, the state ordered the transfer of over $2 billion in redevelopment funds from local agencies to schools. Similarly, the state has used a loophole to divert revenues from a voter-approved gas tax, even though the funds were supposed to be relatively secure. Several state employees unions, such as those representing teachers and nurses, object to Prop 22 because they say it would sap the state's ability to pay for schools and medical facilities. The yes on Prop 22 campaign has been led vociferously by the California Redevelopment Association, which considers the transfer of redevelopment funds to be in violation of the state constitution.

Prop 23: Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law (AB 32) 

Failed, 39% - 61%

In suspending the state's landmark global warming law, Prop 23 would not directly affect land use (see Insight, Vol. 25, No. 19, Oct. 1, 2010) in California and likely would not affect the implementation of SB 375, which attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions mainly through land use rather than imposing limits on polluters directly.

Text of all state propositions [pdf].

COUNTY MEASURES

Merced County Measure C: Voter Confirmation of Zoning Changes

Failed, 43% - 56%

Considered a slow growth initiative and known originally as the "Save Farmland Initiative," Measure C would amend the county's general plan to require voter approval whenever ten or more acres would be converted from agricultural or open space to residential use.

Text of measure [pdf]. 

Merced County Measure D: Right to Vote on Residential Area Expansion

Failed, 63% - 37%

Placed on the ballot by the Merced County Supervisors, Measure D would amend Measure C by exempting 2,437 acres from its provisions.

Siskiyou County Measure G: Klamath River Dam Removal (Advisory Vote)

Failed

Three dams are already scheduled for removal from the Klamath River per the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, a restoration agreement put into effect earlier this year. Opponents of the dams' removal placed the measure on the ballot to gauge public support for removal. Supporters of Measure G claim that dam removal will benefit the area's agricultural sector.

Sutter County Measure V: Food Processing, Agricultural and Recreation Combining District

Failed, 68% - 32%

Measure V would give control of a beleaguered 1,800-acre tract of land from county voters to the Board of Supervisors. The tract was created in 1982 as a district for commercial agricultural activity, but it has languished and attracted no major development since 1990. This measure seeks to give supervisors the control needed to revitalize the district; they would, presumably, do away with its agricultural zoning. Opponents claim that the district is not appropriate for anything other than its originally intended uses.

Text of measure [pdf].  

LOCAL MEASURES

Anaheim Measure J: Design-Build Procurement

Approved, 64% - 36%

Authorizes the use of design-build procurement by competitive negotiation. The City Council shall, by ordinance, establish regulations for the award, use and evaluation of such design-build contracts, in which the design and construction of public works projects are procured from a single entity.

Text of measure [pdf]. 

Arden Arcade (Sacramento County) Measure D: Incorporation of Arden Arcade

Failed, 75% - 24%

In June the Sacramento County LAFCO ordered the incorporation of the City of Arden Arcade, which would be a city of 19 square miles and roughly 90,000 bordering Sacramento to the east. LACFO has declared that the incorporation "may be fiscally feasible" Despite speculation, the City of Sacramento has indicated that it has no plans to annex Arden Arcade. The new city would reimburse the City of Sacramento $6 million annually over 35 years for loss of sales tax revenue. 

Full text of the measure.

Berkeley Measure R: Downtown Plan (Advisory Vote)

Approved, 64% - 36%

Measure R would serve as an advisory vote in which citizens weigh in on a proposed "Climate Action and Downtown Revitalization" plan. The measure asks whether Berkeley should become "one of the greenest cities in the United States" through a host of strategies such as increasing density, preserving historic buildings, green building, and enhancing green space. The measure also specifically calls for a maximum building height of 60 feet but makes exceptions for proposed residences, office buildings, and/or a hotel that would rise up to 180 feet. Opponents contend that the measure is a sly way to allow developers to reap profits from taller buildings.

Cloverdale Measure Q: Urban Growth Boundary

Approved, 56% - 43%

Cloverdale is the only city in Sonoma County without an urban growth boundary. Limits would not apply to the Asti Exception Area, which encompasses the Asti Winery.

Huntington Beach Measure Q: Cell Phone Towers in Parks (Advisory Vote)

Failed, 44% - 56%

This advisory vote would ask voters whether they support the construction of cell phone towers in two city parks. Towers were proposed several years ago but blocked under the provisions of the city's Measure C, which requires voter approval of the constructions of structures in parks that would cost $100,000 or more. The city had issued permits that were then blocked, instigating a lawsuit by T-Mobile.

Text of measure [pdf]. 

Irvine Measure S: Sustainable Community Initiative

Approved, 65% - 35%

This measure would ratify and implement policies in support of renewable energy and environmental programs for a sustainable community. It would also implement a comprehensive Sustainability Plan for the Orange County Great Park.

Menlo Park Measure T: Bohannon Mixed Use Project

Approved, 65% - 35%

Voters in Menlo Park will decide on the fate of a 950,000-square-foot project developed by David Bohannon on 16 acres on the city's east side. The mixed use project would include a hotel, office buildings, parking structures, and retail. Opponents claim that the project would generate too much traffic and would set a bad precedent because of its deviation from the city's current general plan.

Petaluma Measure T: Urban Growth Boundary Extension

Approved, 65% - 35%

The Petaluma City Council put this measure on the ballot to ask voters whether to extend the expiration date of the city's current urban growth boundary from 2018 to 2025.

Richmond Measure U: Point Molate Casino (Advisory Vote)

Failed, 43% - 57%

Voters in Richmond will express their opinion on the prospect of developing a 4,000-slot casino at Point Molate in Richmond. Ultimately, casino developers envision a $1.2 billion resort with a 1,100-room hotel and a mix of uses, including tribal headquarters for the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians.

Text of measure [pdf]. 

Rancho Palos Verdes Measure P: Improvement of Marymount College

Failed, 45% - 55%

Measure R would enact a new specific plan and related amendments to the city's general plan and zoning to permit the construction of campus dormitories and other major improvements on the grounds of Marymount College, a small Catholic college. The college has reportedly spent over $1 million promoting the measure. 

Redondo Beach Measure G: Harbor Zoning

Approved, 52% - 48%

In one of the state's most complex local ballot measure debates, voters in Redondo Beach will be asked to approve the city's Local Coastal Plan and send it to the California Coastal Commission for approval. Pertaining to three zones in the city's coastal area, the measure would allow up to 400,000 square feet of mostly hotel and residential development in the city's harbor area, a half-million square feet mixed use development along Catalina Ave., and the continued operation of a power plant as well as the potential addition of a desalination plant. It was placed on the ballot by a majority vote of the city council. The city's analysis indicates that the plan would create over 30,000 new daily car trips and create intersections with grades E or F.

San Diego Measure C: Pacific Highlands Ranch Amendments

Approved, 70% - 30%

In 1998 Measure M was passed to limit the growth of Pacific Highlands Ranch to 1,900 units until the completion of a connecting road between Interstate 5 and Highway 56. Measure C would amend Measure M by allowing the completion of parks, library, trails, recreation and transportation facilities to serve the community without the completion of the road. Measure C is sponsored by the group San Diego for Responsible Neighborhood Planning, which also sponsored Measure M.

Text of measure [pdf]. 

San Luis Obispo Measure H-10: Prado Road Initiative

Measure H would amend several chapters of San Luis Obispo's Margarita Area Specific Plan, Airport Area Specific Plan and the general plan in order to remove a portion of Prado Road.

San Ramon Measure W: Urban Growth Boundary

Failed, 28% - 72%

Measure W would amend the city's 2030 general plan to extend the San Ramon's urban growth boundary so that it encompasses 1,600 acres of what is now open space and farmland in the Tassajara Valley, thus opening the land to potential development.

Santa Rosa Measure O: Urban Growth Boundary Extension

Approved, 67% - 33%

Measure O would extend the lifespan of the city's UGB to 2035.

Stockton Measure G: Low Rent Housing Project Approval Authority

The city is required to seek re-authorization from voters every 10 years to develop up to 500 units of publicly assisted low-income housing annually. 

 Text of the measure [pdf]. 

Saratoga Measure Q: Building Height Limits

Failed, 49.77% - 50.33%

Would set a two-story limit for buildings on land in Commercial and Professional and Administrative Office zoning districts and require voter approval of any future change to the two-story limit on those lands.

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