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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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County

San Diego County
Measure A - Majority Approval Required

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AMENDMENTS TO THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY GENERAL PLAN
Shall this Initiative be adopted for the purpose of amending the San Diego County General Plan to require voter approval for General Plan amendments that increase residential density for property designated by the General Plan as Semi-Rural or Rural?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by The League of Women Voters of San Diego (LWVSD) and the League of Women Voters of North County San Diego (LWVNCSD)

The Question

Should the County of San Diego General Plan be amended to require voter approval for amendments to the General Plan that increase residential density in semi-rural and rural areas?

The Situation

The County of San Diego General Plan adopted in 2011 guides land-use development decisions within the county's unincorporated area. The County Board of Supervisors may amend the General Plan for private land dvelopment proposals and for public projects deemed to be in the public interest with a simple majority of votes (3 of 5) following an established review process.

The Proposal

This initiative would amend the County General Plan to require county-wide voter approval for General Plan Amendments (GPA) that increase residential density in semi-rural and rural areas. There are several exemptions:

  • Projects involving five or fewer units would be exempt.
  • Projects entirely within a village or rural village as designated in the General Plan as of the date of the Initiative.
  • If the amendment is necessary to comply with state or federal housing laws, provided the Board of Supervisors makes certain required findings that: (a) state or federal law requires the County to accommodate the housing; (b) the amendment permits no greater density than necessary to accommodate the required housing; (c) an alternative site, not subject to the Initiative, is not available.

A YES vote means that GPAs increasing residential density in semi-rural and rural areas require voter approval in addition to applicable County approval processes.

A NO vote means that if the Board of Supervisors approves a GPA, it would not also require voter approval.

Fiscal effect

There will be no fiscal effect of Measure A to County taxpayers unless a GPA is placed on the ballot. Then, according to the Registrar of Voters, the average cost to place a measure on the ballot can range from $950,000 to $1.3 million for a primary or general election and up to $10 million if a special election is required.

Supporters say

  • Measure A prevents urban sprawl by allowing 60,000 new housing units to be built where the General Plan already allows it.
  • Measure A encourages new housing where it is needed and where it would most effectively address climate change - near jobs, schools and infrastructure.
  • Measure A discourages new subdivisions in fire-prone areas, thereby protecting life and property.

 

Opponents say

  • All residents county-wide would be voting on GPA's that directly affect rural communities, taking the approval power out of the hands of the elected Board of Supervisors.
  • At a time when San Diego has a critical housing shortage, Measure A makes it more difficult to build.
  • Measure A exempts commercial and industrial development but requires a county-wide public vote whenever as few as 6 housing units are being added to the General Plan.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

A “yes” vote on this measure means that until 2039, General Plan amendments increasing residential density in semi-rural and rural areas require voter approval in addition to applicable County approval processes, and designation of new Specific Plan Areas would be prohibited. It would also permanently prohibit density transfers from higher density parcels to lower density parcels, including within a project site. Text adopted by this measure may only be amended or repealed by voter approval.

 

NO vote means

A “no” vote on this measure means that if the Board of Supervisors approves a General Plan amendment, it would not also require voter approval. It also means that the General Plan may contain new land use designations for Specific Plan Areas, and that density transfers continue to be allowed.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Source: San Diego County Registrar of Voters

SAFEGUARD OUR SAN DIEGO COUNTRYSIDE INITIATIVE

COUNTY COUNSEL IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS

This measure asks voters to amend the County of San Diego General Plan (“General Plan”) by requiring voter approval for amendments to the General Plan that increase residential density in semi-rural and rural areas.

This measure would amend the General Plan to: 

(a) Until January 1, 2039, require voter approval for any General Plan amendment, that is approved by the County of San Diego, which increases the residential density for any property that is designated Semi-Rural 0.5, Semi-Rural 1, SemiRural 2, Semi-Rural 4, Semi-Rural 10, Rural Lands 20, Rural Lands 40, or Rural Lands 80 as of the effective date of the Initiative;

(b) Exempt a project from the voter approval requirement if: (i) the amendment increases the maximum number of allowed dwelling units by five or fewer dwelling units; (ii) the property is entirely within the boundary of a village or rural village as established in a Community Plan or Subregional Plan as of the effective date of the Initiative; or (iii) the amendment is necessary to comply with state or federal law governing the provision of housing, provided the Board of Supervisors makes findings that: (A) state or federal law requires the County to accommodate the housing; (B) the amendment permits no greater density than necessary to accommodate the required housing; (C) an alternative site that is not subject to the voter approval requirement is not available to satisfy the state or federal housing law;

(c) Until January 1, 2039, prohibit the designation of new Specific Plan Areas; and

(d) Permanently prohibit density transfers from higher density parcels to lower density parcels. 

The text of this measure comes from the Safeguard our San Diego Countryside Initiative petition, which was signed by at least 10% of voters and therefore required the Board of Supervisors to either adopt the General Plan amendments proposed by the Initiative or place them before countywide voters. The Board of Supervisors placed the changes on the ballot as this measure.

This measure will become effective only if approved by a majority of voters voting on the measure. 

A “yes” vote on this measure means that until 2039, General Plan amendments increasing residential density in semi-rural and rural areas require voter approval in addition to applicable County approval processes, and designation of new Specific Plan Areas would be prohibited. It would also permanently prohibit density transfers from higher density parcels to lower density parcels, including within a project site. Text adopted by this measure may only be amended or repealed by voter approval.

A “no” vote on this measure means that if the Board of Supervisors approves a General Plan amendment, it would not also require voter approval. It also means that the General Plan may contain new land use designations for Specific Plan Areas, and that density transfers continue to be allowed.

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure A. A copy of the measure is also available of reviewing at the Registrar of Voters website at www.sdvote.com/en/measurea.pdf. If you desire a copy of the measure, please call the Registrar of Voter's office at 858-505- 7260 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you.

 

Financial effect

Source: San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Fiscal Impact by County Auditor and Controller
Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside Initiative

The passage of this measure would amend the County of San Diego’s (County) General Plan to require countywide voter approval for General Plan Amendments (GPAs), which include Community Plan Updates, that increase density in Semi-Rural and Rural areas. GPAs can be privately or publicly initiated.

If this measure is adopted, it will increase costs to the County. If adopted, this measure will require the County to pay the cost of placing GPAs on the ballot. The cost to the County is dependent on numerous variable factors. These factors include elements surrounding the election process such as number of registered voters, number of pages in the sample ballot and voter information pamphlet, number of ballot cards in the election, type of election (gubernatorial versus presidential; primary versus general or special election), election model (e.g. polling place or mail ballot) and number and nature of proposed GPAs.

According to the Registrar of Voters, the average cost of placing a measure on the ballot subject to countywide voter approval can range between $950,000 to $1.3 million for primary or general elections, and up to $10.0 million if a special election is required.

The County Department of Planning & Development Services (PDS) estimates there could be 12 to 24 GPAs over the next five years. Of these, 5 to 10 GPAs could potentially require voter approval, one within the first year following passage of the measure. 

Passage of this measure could result in costs to the County of $950,000 to $1.3 million in the first year. Costs in the first five years of the measure could range from $5 million to $22 million, with on-going costs thereafter, but these cannot be quantified with any reasonable degree of certainty. Actual costs may be significantly different depending on numerous variable factors, as provided.

The cost of privately-requested GPAs may be recovered if the Board of Supervisors adopts an ordinance to charge the applicant a fee.

Other costs that cannot be quantified are the impacts to County costs and revenues associated with any delays encountered while waiting for an upcoming election or any changes in County services provided and/or property taxes as a result of future GPAs that may be placed on the ballot. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE A

Measure A (Yes on SOS) gives voters a voice over where housing is built in unincorporated San Diego County. The County's General Plan identifies smart and safe places to build housing and was approved with broad community support. Measure A calls for voter approval of large housing developments in fire-prone areas that require changes to the plan.

Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors persists in approving developer-driven changes to the plan that put high-cost housing subdivisions in the wrong places. These sprawl developments maximize developer profits at the public’s expense. They create more traffic and pollution, fire risk, and homes relatively few can afford.

Measure A encourages housing development where we need it most — near existing jobs, schools, and infrastructure. This type of housing is more affordable by design and saves taxpayer dollars by eliminating the need to build and maintain new roads, water and sewer, and other services.

60,000 new homes can be built today in the unincorporated county without any public votes; Measure A does not change that. Measure A protects farmland and natural areas by encouraging builders to construct those homes instead of expensive sprawl developments.

Measure A:

  • Promotes construction of homes affordable to people with a variety of income levels.
  • Discourages new subdivisions in fire risk areas, protecting life and property. 
  • Limits traffic congestion by curbing sprawl development.
  • Reduces the need for new roads and infrastructure in remote areas, saving taxpayer dollars.
  • Encourages construction of the 60,000 homes already allowed in the General Plan.
  • Protects San Diego’s thriving agricultural industry, which provides local food.
  • Fights climate change by encouraging housing construction near jobs, schools, and transportation.
  • PROVIDES VOTER CONTROL – NOT POLITICIAN AND DEVELOPER CONTROL.

Measure A promotes the kind of housing San Diego really needs.
Trust the peoplenot politicians funded by the building industry.
VOTE YES on MEASURE A.

 

LORI THIEL
President, 
League of Woman Voters, San Diego

PAMELA SLATER-PRICE
SD County Supervisor (Retired) 

JAMES E. MILLER
Vice President, 
American Federation of Teachers Guild,
Local 1931 

ESTHER C. SANCHEZ
Oceanside Council Member

PETER A. ANDERSEN
Chair, Sierra Club San Diego

— Source: San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST

ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE A

Vote NO on Measure A – it’s Flawed, Unfair and Deceptive

Not What it Seems
Measure A’s loopholes and exemptions mean it will NOT protect our backcountry and it will NOT give us the control it promises.

Written by attorneys to deceive voters, the fine print reveals casinos, resorts, hotels, country clubs and factories are exempt from Measure A’s voter requirement, as are luxury homes on sprawling, multi-acre lots.

Shockingly, Measure A requires the entire county to vote whenever someone needs to amend the County’s General Plan to add as few as SIX homes. The measure uses deceptive language to gloss over this absurd 6-unit threshold: “The voter approval requirement shall not apply: Where the General Plan amendment increases the maximum number of allowed dwelling units by five or fewer.” Read the measure at noonsos.org.

Follow the Money
The wealthy, out-of-state backers of Measure A wrote it to protect the Golden Door Spa, which campaign finance records show has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Measure A. This luxury resort near Escondido attracts the rich and famous, who pay $10,000 a week. The owners are among the richest people in the world.

These extremely wealthy Wall Street investors want to keep affordable homes far away from their exclusive hotel and force them into congested neighborhoods. Their measure exempts commercial and industrial developments, including expanding the Golden Door, but – unbelievably – requires 1.6 million voters to approve new affordable homes.

Unfair
Measure A creates a ballot box planning scheme so voters in large urban areas will make decisions for small rural communities.

Measure A will force more San Diegans to live in overcrowded apartments and pay higher rent. It will drive home prices higher, making our housing affordability crisis worse. That hits seniors, young families and workers hardest. Measure A will ultimately push more people onto the streets.

Join firefighters, police, farmers, and community leaders opposing Measure A.

 

PATRICK D. WALKER
Vice President, CALFIRE L2881 

DAVID LEONHARDI
San Diego President, Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of
San Diego County

COREY BISHOP
Public School Teacher,
Poway Unified School District 

DEBORAH RUANE
Middle and Low-Income Housing Expert and
CEO, Norwood Development Strategies

RICHARD VOLKER
Chair, Save Our Rural Economy

— Source: San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE A

Measure A is a deceptive scheme. Extremely wealthy Wall Street investors are behind Measure A. These out-of-town investors are urging you to vote “yes” to protect and grow their investments and make more money. They wrote Measure A with one goal: to block affordable homes near their luxury $10,000-a-week Golden Door Spa. Campaign finance records show the Golden Door has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Measure A.

Measure A exempts commercial and industrial developments, including expanding the Golden Door, but – unbelievably – requires 1.6 million voters to vote whenever someone wants to add as few as 6 affordable homes to the General Plan.

Over its 20-year lifespan, Measure A would cost taxpayers up to $104 million in election costs. That’s money that could be used to fund REAL affordable housing or REAL traffic solutions, but instead the wealthy investors behind Measure A want your tax dollars to protect their spa. 

The General Plan is zoned for about 60,000 future homes, but many of those homes will never be built because they would be miles from jobs, transit and freeways in villages like Julian and Borrego Springs. The plan also calls for thousands of luxury homes on sprawling, multi-acre lots. There is no affordable housing in the General Plan and Measure A would ensure there won’t be for 20 years.

Measure A is flawed, unfair and deceptive. It is not what it seems. Its loopholes and exemptions mean it will NOT protect our backcountry and it will NOT give voters the control it promises.

VOTE NO ON MEASURE A.

 

PATRICK D. WALKER
Vice President, CALFIRE L2881 San Diego 

LANI LUTAR
Past President and CEO,
San Diego County Taxpayers Association

DAVID LEONHARDI
President,
Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of
San Diego County 

DEBORAH RUANE
Middle and Low-Income Housing Expert and
CEO, Norwood Development Strategies

RICARDO FLORES
Social Justice Advocate,
Local Initiatives Support Coalition San Diego

— Source: San Diego County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE A

Opponents of Measure A have resorted to scare tactics and mudslinging because they don’t like the facts. Don’t be confused!

Follow the Money
The No on A campaign is funded by sprawl developers and special interests that have the most to gain if Measure A fails. Developers of projects that require General Plan changes are desperate not to lose their power over politicians who rubber-stamp their plans.

Measure A Protects Small Property Owners and Rural Communities
Measure A doesn’t change any existing zoning. It allows small property owners to add units. It protects plans developed by communities and stakeholders in San Diego County. These plans encourage building entry-level homes close to jobs, transportation and services, rather than luxury developments. Measure A promotes construction of the 60,000 homes already allowed in the General Plan.

Measure A focuses on large housing developments – not hotels, factories, or casinos – because almost all proposed General Plan changes are for housing projects.

By Regular People for Regular People
Yes on A is a grassroots campaign run by volunteers dedicated to protecting San Diego’s backcountry and making housing more affordable. The measure was drafted by these volunteers. It gives ordinary people a voice.

Vote YES on Measure A: Stop Special Interests
Trust voters instead of politicians and those who fund their campaigns. Developers want to maximize profits by building high-end developments in dangerous, fire prone locations. This approach destroys farmland and natural areas and makes traffic worse.

If Measure A passes, YOU will have the final say.

TRUST PEOPLE, NOT POLITICIANS.
VOTE YES ON MEASURE A

 

DONNA FRYE
Former San Diego Councilmember

ERIC THEODORE ANDERSON
Past President Farm Bureau SD

NONA T. BARKER
Retired Fire Captain,
San Diego County Service Area 107

PHILIP R. PRYDE
Past Chair,
San Diego County Planning Commission

SUSAN B. BALDWIN, AICP
City & Regional Planner/Affordable Housing Expert

— Source: San Diego County Registrar of Voters

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