February 5, 2008 ElectionPros and Cons League of Women Voters of Stanislaus County
Voter Service Pros and Cons Marie Bairey, Amy Wolfe & Patty Beyer Please ask questions For more information, Pros and Cons are available www.smartvoter.org Advocacy League Positions Lobby Advocate Litigate League of Women Voters – Two Roles – Two Presentations
What does my vote mean? • A YES vote means you want to change something, or that you favor what is being proposed. • A NO vote means you want to keep things the way they are, or at least don't favor this particular change.
February 5th Election: Initiative Process – ‘Direct Democracy’ – Power of the people to place measures on the ballot to either create or change statutes or amend the Constitution. An initiative requires a simple majority of the public’s vote to be enacted. (327 since 1912) Referendum Process (rare) – Power of the people to approve or reject statutes adopted by the state Legislature (43 since 1812)
How to Evaluate Initiatives • Who are the real sponsors and opponents of the measure? Investigate the names of groups with which you are not familiar. • Does the measure deal with one issue which can easily be decided by a "yes" or "no"? Or is it a complex issue which should be thoroughly examined in the legislative arena?
How to Evaluate Initiatives – pg 2 • Is it written well? Are there conflicts in the measure that may require court resolution or interpretation? Is it "good government" or will it cause more problems than it will resolve?
How to Evaluate Initiatives – pg 3 • If the measure amends the Constitution, consider whether it really belongs in the Constitution. Amending the Constitution is cumbersome and costly and requires a vote of the people. Would a statute accomplish the same purpose?
How to Evaluate Initiatives – pg 4 • Does the measure create its own revenue source? Does it earmark, restrict, or obligate a specific percentage of General Fund revenues? Consider the effect on the overall flexibility of the budget.
How to Evaluate Initiatives – pg 5 • Examine the measure by its merits. During the campaign, be wary of distortion tactics and commercials that rely on image, but tell nothing of substance about the measure.
Measures E & L: According to Measure L: • There is a clear conflict between this initiative and Measure E. If both measures are approved, the measure receiving the greater number of affirmative votes shall supersede the other measure. No provision of the superseded measure shall be implemented or enforced. • In the event that the voters approve ANY initiative or referendum other than Measure E related to the County’s general plan contemporaneously with the approval of this ordinance, the measure receiving the greater number of affirmative votes shall supersede the other measure(s).
Measures E & L In regards to the previous slide, • If you vote yes on Measure E, you would vote no on Measure L. • If you vote yes on Measure L, you would vote no on Measure E.
Measure E Thirty Year Land Use Restriction County of Stanislaus Initiative
Measure E: Thirty-Year Land Use Restriction Initiative: Stanislaus County • Should the citizens of Stanislaus County have direct citizen participation in land-use decisions involving the expansion of residential uses into agricultural and open-space areas in order to encourage urban form and to perserve agricultural land?
County Counsel Says: • This Initiative is intended to amend the Land Use Element of Stanislaus County's General Plan by adding Goal 6 and Policy 25 to restrict for a period of thirty (30) years the Board of Supervisors of Stanislaus County from approving the redesignation or rezoning of land in the unincorporated area of the County from an agricultural or open space use to a residential use without the approval of a majority of voters of the County.
County Counsel Says: • This Initiative provides that a majority vote requirement of County voters at a General or Special Election shall be in effect until December 31, 2036, for decisions by the Board of Supervisors affecting land that is designated for agricultural or open space use and is proposed to be changed to residential use on the Land use map of the County General Plan as of April 17, 2006. • A legal question exists as to whether the April 17, 2006, date is valid and enforceable.
County Counsel Says: • This Initiative has no effect on growth and General Plans of the nine cities in Stanislaus County and will not affect requests by cities to expand their sphere of influence or annexations for residential development. The intended measure will not limit residential development by cities within existing or amended spheres of influence of cities, or preclude cities from annexing additional areas for residential development.
County Counsel Says: • These General Plan changes affect agricultural or open space land that lies outside the present and future city limits. • This Initiative provides that once a majority of County voters have approved a land use map designation or land use entitlement for a property then additional voter approval is not required for subsequent entitlement requests that are consistent with the overall approved development project or land use designation and zoning or any requested modification to a land use or zoning designation that does not decrease the number of permitted dwellings as specified in the exhibits and plans approved by the voters.
County Counsel Says: This Initiative is exempt from the voter approval requirements: • Not more than ten acres per year for residential housing to meet the County's Fair Housing requirement imposed by State law. • Additional acreage to meet the County Legal Fair Share Obligations based on maximum multi-family densities to accommodate moderate, low and very low income housing. • Any development project that has obtained a vested right pursuant to State law prior to April 17, 2006. • Any development project consisting entirely of farm worker housing
Planning Department Says: • There are no applications pending that immediately would fall under the Measure E requirements. • Salida's expansion has been approved. Diablo Grande has the necessary zoning to grow. • Other unincorporated communities -- Keyes, Denair and Del Rio, for example -- have some vacant residential land. • If the West Park proposal for the Crows Landing air facility does not include housing, as Sacramento developer Gerry Kamilos insists, then it wouldn't fall under Measure E.
Measure E – A ‘Yes’ Vote means • A YES vote means you want to change something, or that you favor what is being proposed. • A YES VOTE will restrict until December 31, 2036, the redesignation or rezoning by the County of agricultural or open space to residential use in the unincorporated areas of the County without approval of a majority of the voters of the county unless certain exemptions set forth in the Initiative apply.
Measure E – A ‘No’ Vote means • A NO vote means you want to keep things the way they are, or at least don't favor this particular change. • A NO VOTE will retain the County's current General Plan policies and permit the Board of Supervisors to amend the General Plan in response to the changing needs of Stanislaus County residents pursuant to State planning and zoning laws.
Supporters of Measure E Say: • Does not change property rights • County Supervisors will direct housing growth into cities • Stops piece-meal haphazard housing projects outside our cities that cost taxpayers $ millions annually for services • E affects zoning changes from agricultural to residential and no effect on commercial or industrial zoning • For years, Stanislaus County has been “of the develops, by the developers, for the developers”
Opponents of Measure E Say: No arguments against Measure E were submitted but the Modesto Bee contends: • It is a form of ballot-box planning. It means that developers will be "selling" their projects to voters as well as to county officials. • Voters in the large cities will be determining growth in smaller areas, such as Denair or Grayson. However, taxpayers countywide are already subsidizing services, such as sheriff's patrols, provided to unincorporated communities. • With or without E, developers would try to circumvent even the Measure E process and circulate petitions and seek voter approval without getting the appropriate environmental review. • Measure E will not stamp out sprawl.
For: Jeani Ferrari, farming family John R. Hamm, MD, cardiologist Denny Jackman, former Modesto City Council member Vance Kennedy, PhD, hydrologist & farmer Vicki Morales, teacher Sierra Club League of Women Voters of Stanislaus County Against: Modesto Chamber of Commerce Endorsements of Measure E:
Measure L Responsible Planning and Growth Control Initiative County of Stanislaus – Majority Vote Required
Measure L: Responsible Planning and Growth Control • Should Stanislaus County have a more comprehensive and fundamental method to allow citizen involvement in the planning process through the establishment of a broad-based commission of Stanislaus County Residents to recommend a new General Plan, guided by the principles contained in this initiative and that the recommended General Plan would be submitted to the voters for their approval?
County Counsel Says: • This initiative is intended to place a limitation on General Plan amendments which redesignate land from agricultural use to a residential use for two years until a new General Plan is placed before and adopted by voters. • This initiative would establish a 15-member General Plan Review Commission made up from a broad-based coalition of citizens appointed by the Board of Supervisors that would be tasked with creating the new General Plan.
County Counsel Says: • The General Plan Review Commission is directed to consider integrating policies into the new General Plan that would consider mitigation measures to permanently protect farmland; consider establishing a residential growth cap; consider whether or not growth should be directed to areas of poorer quality or less productive farmland, such as areas with poorer soils in the foothill regions of the County; encourage cities to adopt community boundaries; and require new development to provide adequate infrastructure and pay for services to support growth. Development of a new General Plan must ensure that proper planning occurs to address Stanislaus County's projected growth.
County Counsel Says: • The initiative provides that the General Plan Review Commission shall draft a new General Plan that would be submitted to the voters within two years after the measure is passed. The new General plan shall become effective if approved by the voters. If voters reject the plan, the Board of Supervisors would be required to submit a revised plan to the voters for consideration. If the voters reject the Revised Plan, the Board of Supervisors would be authorized to proceed with the adoption of a further revised General Plan consistent with the principles of the initiative.
County Counsel Says: • The initiative also provides that for a period of two years the General Plan may not be amended to redesignate land from agricultural or open space to a residential use without voter approval.
Measure L – A ‘Yes’ Vote means • A YES vote means you want to change something, or that you favor what is being proposed. • A YES VOTE will set a two year limitation on the conversion of agricultural lands to residential land use designations in the unincorporated portion of the County until a new, comprehensive General Plan is adopted by the voters which would be prepared by a General Plan Review Commission following guiding principles to establish policies that promote farmland preservation, discourage urban sprawl, and require each development project to pay its own way.
Supporters of Measure L Say: • County officials placed it on the ballot, but are prevented by state law from actively campaigning. • Growth requires proper planning, not slick campaign ads • Responsible growth requires planning for needs related to transportation schools, public safety, sewer and water • Responsible planning requires more than a simple yes or no vote on individual development projects
Measure L– A ‘No’ Vote means • A NO vote means you want to keep things the way they are, or at least don't favor this particular change. • A NO VOTE will retain the County's current General Plan policies and permit the Board of Supervisors to amend the General Plan in response to the changing needs of Stanislaus County residents pursuant to State planning and zoning laws.
Opponents of Measure L Say: • County residential areas lack planning infrastructure like sewer, sidewalks and lighting • Supervisors have committed 6,000 acres of prime farmland to concrete and congestion (Salida and Crows Landing) • The measure calls for a broad cross-section of the community to serve on the 15-member general plan rewrite commission. But supervisors would appoint all of the members. • Guidelines are squishy on what the rewrite commission should do. It repeatedly states that members would "consider" various growth-control suggestions.
For: Kevin Chiesa, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Against: Robert Weatherbee, Turlock area farmer & former County Planning Commission member Timothy Parker, former Newman City Council member Phil Rockey, former Oakdale City Council member Tim Fisher, former Modesto City Council member Garrad Marsh, Modesto City Council member Modesto Bee League of Women Voters of Stanislaus County Modesto Chamber of Commerce Sierra Club Endorsements of Measure L:
5 Minutes of Questions • Measure E • Measure L
Measure M The Increase Accountability in City Hall Measure of 2008 City of Modesto – Majority Approval Required
Measure M: The Increase Accountability in City Hall Measure of 2008 - Modesto • Should the City Charter be amended to increase accountability of City Staff to City elected officials, electors and tax payers and accountability of City elected officials to City electors and tax payers?
County Counsel says: The Charter would be amended to: • Create a Citizen's Salary Setting Commission of five unpaid City voters with restrictions on membership to prevent conflicts of interest. • Add duties/responsibilities of Mayor to encourage accountability of City Hall • Establish, as fourth charter officer, an independent City auditor with specified duties, including conducting annual post, performance, and special audits and investigations assigned by the Council; submitting to Council quarterly reports
City Counsel says…continued: The Charter would be amended to: • Require Council to adopt, with appropriate staff input, Statement of Policy that sets goals, objectives and aspirations to be accomplished for charter officers and City department heads and shall be used in Council's annual evaluations of charter officers and City Manager's annual evaluations of department heads.
The Charter would be amended to: • Require City Manager to submit to Council annual proposed budgets… • Designate as unclassified employees: assistant and deputy city attorneys, deputy directors, temporary/part time hourly paid employees, and appointed office staff of Mayor and Council Members. • Prohibit combining offices of city charter officers except in case of emergencies but, in any event, for no more than three months.
Measure M – A ‘Yes’ Vote means • A YES vote means you want to change something, or that you favor what is being proposed.
Measure M – Supporters Say: • This measure will provide tough new accountability standards for Modesto's city government, including performance audits of all city departments, and greater budget oversight by the Mayor and City Council. These reforms also establish an independent City Auditor and require the City Council and Mayor to establish budget priorities and policies. • Additionally, by voting "Yes" on Measure M, voters will create an independent citizens' commission to recommend council salaries, and impose mandatory salary caps on the City Council. Further, it upgrades the Mayor's duties and responsibilities, modernizes disciplinary practices and requires annual performance audits for key city personnel.
Measure M - A ‘No’ Vote Means • A NO vote means you want to keep things the way they are, or at least don't favor this particular change.
Measure M – Opponents Say: • No argument submitted.
For Measure M: • Mark Frink, President, Modesto Police Officers Association • Cecil D. Ridge, President, Modesto City Fire Fighters Association • Joy Madison, President, Modesto Chamber of Commerce • Sandra Lucas, Co-Chair, Modesto Citizens for Accountability; Member, Charter Review Committee • Bob Dunbar, Councilman, Modesto City Council, 2003-2007