By Joe Hanauer
Read Q for yourself in your Voters Guide.
Supporters say it’s only about “Major Developments”, but Q obliquely states Major Developments aren’t only large projects. It lists a number of factors that would cause the smallest project to be swept into the definition of Major Developments. Why didn’t the writers say what they meant? They don’t want change even if it doesn’t expand a site by an inch. That’s what Q says.
Q says schools are exempt from a public vote. But it also says they’re only exempt if the project is solely a school. We need more facilities for our kids, so if a school and a park are proposed the project would need to go to a public vote.
Q supporters state, “…buildings that retain their size, height and kind…” are exempt from a public vote. What is this “kind” stuff? Why hide what they really meant. If the proposed use is different from what it had been, the project will likely need a vote. Clothing store converted to a coffee shop – wait up to two years and risk a public vote after the two years it took to get through the city.
Then there’s the requirement of a majority of the Electorate voting Yes for a project’s approval – not a majority of those voting. Example – if 60% of 18,000 people eligible, actually vote, it would mean 10,800 people voted. Therefore 9,000 of the 10,800 voters would be needed to approve a project. Nothing will ever pass.
The writers of Q say this is not what they meant. Why didn’t they write what they meant…unless they really meant what they wrote. Unfortunately, if Q is approved, any change, even one word would require another public vote…and a majority of the Electorate could be needed to change it. Q will only change if a court mandates change.
There’s more but this will give you a start of what to look for when you read Q.
But, what’s the problem with a public vote?
1. No small business can wait up to two years after the city’s lengthy process gambling that an expensive public vote will go their way. Small businesses won’t come and locals wanting to expand, won’t. These are the lifeblood of our business neighborhoods.
2. Winning a vote isn’t a slam dunk. Businesses that don’t want new competition will lobby against a project. For projects like the new South Laguna fire station, neighbors who say NIMBY and fiscal conservatives who won’t want to spend city funds will vote No.
3. The only ones willing to risk a vote will be deep pocket developers, just the opposite of what Q says it’s about. Simply another unintended consequence of Q. Large developers will acquire the empty stores actually caused by Q and gamble on a vote. Think about the ads we’re seeing for ballot measures and propositions. That’s what ballots for projects will be like.
4. Voters will be asked to consider environmental impact reports, traffic studies and other complex information intended for trained planners. Imagine, if Q were in place, there would have been more than 30 proposals requiring a public vote in the past five years. Almost all were small.
These are just a few of the issues buried in Q’s 10 pages. If it were only about keeping the 36’ height limit or avoiding block long developments, count me in. But the 36’ is a trojan horse hiding the Q provisions that stop the smallest projects we locals want and will drive this town to further unmitigated aging.
Q is a disaster that we simply can’t let happen.