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Tuesday November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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County of San Luis Obispo
Measure G-18 Initiative Statute - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


57,498 votes yes (46.37%)

66,493 votes no (53.63%)

100% of precincts reporting (156/156).

128,353 ballots counted.

Shall an ordinance be adopted amending the San Luis Obispo County General Plan and County Code to prohibit any new petroleum extraction and all well stimulation treatments, as defined in the full-text of the measure, including hydraulic fracturing and acid well stimulation, on all lands within the unincorporated area of the county?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

YES vote means

A "yes" vote on the measure is a vote in favor of the measure.  

NO vote means

A "no" vote is a vote against its adoption.  

Impartial analysis / Proposal

RITA L. NEAL County Counsel

This measure proposes the adoption of an ordinance through the initiative process.  If 51% of qualified voters vote to approve the measure, an ordinance will be adopted amending the San Luis Obispo County General Plan, including the Local Coastal Program, and Title 22 and Title 23 of the San Luis Obispo County Code, to prohibit well stimulation treatments and any new petroleum extraction on all land within the unincorporated area of the county.  The intended purpose of the measure is to protect county land, water, and quality of life.

                Some impacts of the measure are uncertain because it is not known to what extent the banned or limited well stimulation activities are either utilized or necessary to the recovery of oil or gas in the county.  The measure bans any new petroleum extraction but permits as a “nonconforming use” any petroleum extraction existing on the effective date of the measure (10 days after the vote approving the measure is declared by the board of supervisors [Elec. Code, § 9122]; hereafter “the effective date”).  Such extraction may not be enlarged, increased, or otherwise expanded or intensified after the effective date.  The measure prohibits all well stimulation treatments, even those currently existing on the measure’s effective date.  Well stimulation treatments include fracking and acidizing (acid well stimulation), which can be used, where effective, to enhance recovery of petroleum.

                The legality of the measure is uncertain.  To the extent the measure regulates drilling operations underground, it may be preempted by state or federal law.  San Luis Obispo County retains land use regulation on the surface, but the validity of local land use regulations that impact how wells are operated below ground is not clear.  In addition, the measure’s regulatory restrictions on certain oil extraction without compensation may result in claims of an unconstitutional "taking" of mineral rights.  In order to avoid an unconstitutional taking and county liability, the measure provides authority for the county to grant a limited exemption to the regulations imposed by the measure based on substantial evidence of facts constituting a taking.  The procedures for evaluating evidence of a taking and determining the extent of any exemption are not prescribed by the measure.  The necessity of utilizing such procedures prior to bringing suit against the county is unknown.  Any exemption determination would be subject to judicial review.

                The measure requires the county to defend the measure.  If the measure is approved, litigation is anticipated.  Litigation would likely include claims of preemption and an unlawful taking of private property rights.  County resources would be necessary to defend against such claims, and to process taking exemption claims and vested rights claims made by holders of mineral rights. 


                The measure has been placed on the ballot by the requisite number of voters who signed the initiative petition for the measure.  A "yes" vote on the measure is a vote in favor of the measure.  A "no" vote is a vote against its adoption.  

Financial effect

James P. Erb, CPA Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector San Luis Obispo County

The fiscal impact of Measure G-18 to County revenue and expenditures is inherently difficult to predict due to its intersection with the variable oil market, changing technologies, and potential secondary effects of restricting oil production.

If approved, Measure G-18 prohibits new petroleum extraction and “well stimulation treatment;” existing operations would be allowed to continue as long as they are not expanded or intensified. As stated in Measure G-18, the impacts of petroleum extraction will decrease over time as production from existing wells declines. Additionally, the value of active oil businesses and mineral rights will likely decrease if Measure G is approved, which could impact tax revenue as described below.

Although there may be financial impacts to the County, it is impossible to predict with any certainty what they will be or the net amount. The following fiscal areas would likely be affected if oil extraction decreases:

  • Property Tax: The assessment of property tax for mineral-producing properties is based on a calculation of oil reserves that the mineral rights holder can access as well as the market price of oil. Restricting the owner’s ability to expand will decrease the value of the mineral rights and thereby decrease taxes.
  • Unitary Tax:  This is similar to property tax except the assessment is calculated by the State rather than the local Assessor. Unitary tax is applied to businesses whose assets cross county boundaries such as transmission lines or pipelines.  A decrease in oil production may decrease unitary taxes.
  •  In Fiscal Year 2017/2018, the oil industry was assessed $2,304,232 in secured, unsecured and unitary taxes. This represents 0.43% of all assessed taxes for 2017/2018. The taxes were apportioned as follows:

Amount              Percent of Total Funds

  •    Schools -                                                      $  1,514,626                         (0.283%)
  •  County General Fund -                                  $     603,596                         (0.113%)
  • Special Districts -                                       $     121,543                         (0.023%)
  •  Cities -                                                           $        20,211                         (0.004%)
  • RDA Successor Agencies -                       $        44,255                         (0.008%)

There are other potential financial impacts to the County General Fund which are impossible to estimate, including but not limited to:

  • The cost of any environmental damage caused by the oil extraction process. The oil industry is regulated by multiple agencies including the Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Regulation, Enviromental Protection Agency, Regional Water Quality Control Board, Air Pollution Control, and the County of San Luis Obispo Planning Department. Although infrequent, even with regulation, oil spills have occurred;
  • Any impact to approximately 32 to 76 local oil-industry jobs (source EDD) and the cascading effect to the local economy, including the related consumer spending and associated sales tax;
  •  County costs for processing applications for exemptions to Measure G-18, including exemptions to avoid unconstitutional takings of property and where there are “vested rights” which may be offset by existing fees;
  •  Litigation costs defending or opposing exemption approvals or denials;
  • Potential litigation costs regarding claims of unconstitutional “takings” of property and/or vested rights. Costs could include monetary awards for damages (the County is not insured against court judgments for “takings” damages).

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

Beautiful San Luis Obispo County has a bright and prosperous future if we choose to protect our water, agriculture, and tourism. Fracking, acidizing, and expanded petroleum extraction put that future at risk.

Measure G lets the people decide, not the oil companies.

  • The oil industry has plans to expand drilling in San Luis Obispo County, if we let them.
  • They use risky, energy-intensive oil extraction techniques.
  • Oil operations, as well as fracking and acidizing, often require transportation and use of toxic chemicals.
  • Fracking and expanded drilling pose risks to San Luis Obispo County’s water, agricultural heritage, and rural character, and undermine our clean energy future. 


Measure G protects our water quality and quantity.



  • It bans fracking, acidizing, and expanded drilling, which endanger our groundwater, creeks and soil.
  • Fracking uses large quantities of fresh water. Our limited water supplies should be conserved for local farmers and residents, not sacrificed to the oil industry.


Measure G protects our health and safety.

  • Studies reveal toxic chemicals used in fracking and acidizing – and pollution from oil extraction – can cause illnesses such as cancer, birth defects, and asthma.
  • Scientists have shown fracking and injection can trigger earthquakes – and we live in an already seismically active area.


Measure G protects our economic future.

  • A safe and reliable water supply is essential for a healthy economy. Reports show:
  • Agriculture produced $732 million in crops, contributed $1.87 billion to the local economy, and supported over 20,000 local jobs in 2011. 2017 crop values totaled nearly $925 million. 
  • Tourism generated $75 million in local tax revenue and provided another 20,000 jobs in 2017 alone.



Measure G is fair and balanced.

  • It prohibits expanded drilling but allows existing oil operations to continue.
  •  It gives the County flexibility to protect property rights.


Vote YES on Measure G: Protect Our Water, Our Health, and Our Future.

s/ Natalie Risner, Small Business Owner  

s/ Charles Varni, Retired College Teacher  

s/ Karen Merriam, Retired Clinical Social Worker  

s/ Dale Smith, Retired Veterinarian


Arguments AGAINST

Measure G is a costly ballot initiative that would result in another major employer shutting down in our County-hurting local workers and their families and resulting in new economic problems for our County.

Measure G would shut down existing oil and gas production.

  • Practices that have been safely used for over a century and are needed for existing production to continue would be banned by Measure G.
  • As a result, Measure G would shut down existing oil and gas production in San Luis Obispo County.

Measure G would result in more economic uncertainty.

  • Already, the closure of Diablo Canyon is going to put a heavy economic strain on our county budget.
  • If oil and gas production is shut down, the county would lose even more tax revenue, which could result in deep budget cuts to public safety and schools.

Measure G would harm our families and our community.

  • Hundreds of workers would be at risk of losing their jobs.
  • Millions in annual state and local tax revenues would be lost.

Measure G would expose the County and its taxpayers to massive financial liability.

  • The County would be required to defend itself against lawsuits over Measure G, which could cost the County millions of dollars in legal fees alone.

Measure G would increase dependence on foreign oil.

  • California produces less than 35% of what is needed to meet the demand of gasoline for our drivers.
  • Oil that we do not produce locally would have to be imported from somewhere else, including countries that have poor environmental regulations and terrible human rights standards like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Russia.
  • We should allow local producers to help meet our energy needs in the responsible way, under the strictest environmental regulations in the world.

Vote NO on G.

/s/ George Donati, 4th Generation Family Farmer, San Luis Obispo County

/s/ Dr. Dan Howes, Ph.D., Water Engineer, Cal Poly

/s/ Dr. Rene Bravo, M.D., Children's Health Specialist

/s/ Dee Santos, Lucia Mar Unified School District Trustee

/s/ William Andersen, Firefighter


Replies to Arguments FOR

As citizens who proudly live in San Luis Obispo County, we care deeply about our County’s future and strongly oppose Measure G.

At this time, when our County faces adverse effects due to the closure of Diablo Canyon, Measure G would create more economic uncertainty, hurt our community, and increase our dependence on foreign oil.

Measure G would shut down EXISTING oil and gas production.

  • The promoters of this proposition are using scare tactics about fracking to try to pass Measure G. But, there is no hydraulic fracturing in San Luis Obispo County and no plans to do so.
  • Measure G is so broadly written that practices safely used for over a century—and which are needed for existing production to continue—would be banned by Measure G.

Measure G would put the County and its taxpayers at risk for millions of dollars in liability that the County is not insured for.

  • San Luis Obispo County would be on the hook to pay millions of dollars to property owners whose mineral rights would be violated by Measure G—thus facing drastic reductions in vital public services.
  • A state judge already held that a similar measure in Monterey County was illegal and resulted in Monterey being exposed to massive legal liability.
  • Even the County’s own impartial analysis cited the risk of litigation resulting from the measure (7/20/2018).

We need a balanced approach as we transition to a clean energy economy, not the drastic energy shutdown caused by Measure G.

Vote NO on G

/s/ Tom J. Bordonaro, Jr., Assessor, San Luis Obispo County

/s/ Chris Darway, 4th Generation Family Farmer, San Luis Obispo County

/s/ Dr. Dan Howes, Ph.D., Water Engineer, Cal Poly

/s/ Doralyn Henry, Teacher

/s/ James Mulhall, Retired Commander, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department



Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Big Oil is spending big money to protect their profits while they threaten our water, economy, and health. Know the facts:

The “Oil and Gas Shut Down” is a Lie

  •  Measure G allows San Luis Obispo County’s existing oil operations to continue (see Section 2B of the Initiative).

Big Oil is Risking the Heart of San Luis Obispo County’s Economy

  • The County Auditor says oil provides fewer than 80 local jobs and only 0.43% of County-assessed taxes.
  • Reports show agriculture and tourism together contribute over 40,000 jobs and billions of dollars to the local economy.
  • Agriculture and tourism depend on clean and plentiful water. Groundwater contamination could cause significant economic harm.

Big Oil is Bullying Voters with Threats of Lawsuits

  • Courts have confirmed local governments have the power to ban new drilling. If we choose to do that, then Big Oil should back off.
  • The measure gives the County flexibility to avoid liability for “taking” anyone’s property rights.

Oil Companies Don’t Care About Our Energy Independence

  • They convinced Congress to lift the ban on oil exports to maximize their profits. They also consistently lobby against clean energy measures that would reduce our reliance on overseas fossil fuels.
  • ·San Luis Obispo County oil is refined and sold throughout California and internationally, not just for local consumption.

Measure G stops oil companies from passing the risks of fracking and expanded oil production on to the people of San Luis Obispo County. Vote YES on Measure G.

s/ Ruth Madocks, Organic Farmer

s/ Elizabeth Demsetz, Physics Lecturer, Cal Poly

s/ SherrI Stoddard, RN

s/ Janine Rands, Retired Social Worker

s/ Douglas Timewell, Retired Farmer


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