By Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press
There are five ballot measures covered in today’s column; two-state wide issues and three local topics. State propositions 41 and 42, along with city proposition A, are no-brainers, righting wrongs and fixing stuff that obviously needs to be fixed.
So we’ll start with what I think is the best reason for San Diego voters to get motivated to go the polls: Propositions B&C. They are about a small issue with much larger implications.
Actual endorsements will be in another article, though I doubt you’ll have much trouble figuring out which way I personally lean. Last time we took a look at federal and state legislative contests.
For more of our June 2014 primary coverage, go here.
City of San Diego Propositions B&C
Voting Yes on B & C enacts the Barrio Logan Community Plan developed by the community’s families and small business owners.
The Barrio Logan Community Plan was last updated in 1978. It allows auto repair shops, metal-plating factories, and diesel truck traffic next to schools, playgrounds and homes. Over the course of five years, with dozens of community meetings, residents and small business owners in Barrio Logan worked to develop a Community Plan that protects community residents and businesses.
The city study on the impact of the plan projected it would add 5,000 jobs to the area.
Prior to its approval in September 2013 by the San Diego City Council, David Alvarez negotiated what everybody at the time agreed was a compromise with local industry representatives that addressed their concerns. But the multinationals behind the shipyards reneged on the agreement and , after the council decided to go ahead anyway, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get these initiatives on the ballot.
It was a shameful signature gathering campaign, featuring out-of town-signature gatherers paid per signature at suburban retail locations. They were videotaped repeatedly blatantly misrepresenting the facts in a manner designed to scare voters with promises about the “Navy leaving San Diego,” forty-six thousand jobs disappearing and “developers” using the plan to build yuppie condominiums.
Robert Godinez, president of the Shipyard Workers Union, said that he and other workers were misled by the upper management of National Steel and Shipbuilding Company—known to San Diegans as NASSCO. Godinez said he was called into the main office, shown maps of the new plan and told it would be bad for jobs.
Godinez said he was also told about a “1,000-feet high tide mark that they were measuring from, and beyond the 1,000 feet, there would be housing.”
He said management painted a picture of condominiums cropping up so that, “even right out the shipyard window, you would see complexes and apartments and that kind of stuff.” That would affect jobs, Godinez said.
“So that was a big concern of mine,” he said. But then Godinez started investigating. “I found out that no, it’s not true,” he said.
The SD Free Press has covered this extensively. Here is a link to the dozens of articles we’re run on the subject. Our most recent article is by Jim Miller, who interviewed Environmental Health Coalition’s Georgette Gomez.
Here’s the money quote:
“Everyone who wants to preserve community control over the planning process should be afraid because your community will be next!”
The Vote No campaign is in full swing now. The lies have been toned down to misdirection and hyperbole.
Not Quite A Lie #1: Increases Pollution and Community Health Problems
We’re now supposed to believe these corporations are now concerned about the health of Barrio Logan residents, which is odd given the history of companies just dumping toxic pollutants in the area. This latest spin involves taking the result of increased traffic (more small business, increasing pass-by freeway traffic and peripheral residential development) through the area and bleating about the increased greenhouse gases and cancer risk(!).
The No on B&C group would like people to ignore actual scientific evidence about industrial pollution as the cause of asthma and other health problem. A statewide list of census tracts most impacted by pollution released by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA) clearly indicates a serious problem with the release of toxic contaminants– as opposed to diesel particulates– into the air specific to the Barrio Logan area.
Here’s the map, see for yourself.
Not Quite a Lie #2: Puts Housing Too Close to the Shipyards
The Barrio Logan Community includes zone changes that could at some point allow 3,685 residential units to be built in the area. The corporations opposing the plan would like voters to believe these homes would be adjacent to the shipyards.
In fact, the real bone of contention the corporations have with the community plan is the creation of a buffer zone (where no residential development would be allowed and existing businesses would remain) between the shipyards and these future homes.
Voting no on B&C means is a vote against a buffer zone between industrial and residential land uses.
FYI- The shipyards didn’t care about the potential for future residential development while negotiations were in progress before the plan was approved by the city council. And they won’t care about it going foward.
Then there’s this not-so-subtle bit of race/class baiting on their web site: “We can build low income housing in many places, but we can’t move the Shipyards.” Not so long ago the corporate sponsored signature gatherers were warning about “yuppie condos”, remember?
Not Quite a Lie #3: Threatens Thousands of Middle Class Jobs
They’re not throwing around the “46,000 jobs” claim any more. Too many people fact checked it and found out it was BS. That number is the total number of maritime industry jobs in all the harbor areas of San Diego.
At no place in the Barrio Logan Community Plan is there any language threatening the zoning status of any of the shipbuilders located adjacent to the community. Again, this dispute is about creating a buffer zone. Existing businesses, which include sub-contractors used by the maritime industry would remain and could expand by up to 20% with no issues.
Those seeking to expand beyond that 20% would be required to get a conditional use permit and that opens a can of worms the industry truly fears. It’s not the process, but the investigation into and the release of information about environmental issues that would be triggered by requesting a conditional use permit. And that tells me they have something to hide.
Again, the city study used in creating the Community Plan would lead to the creation of 5,000 jobs. There is simply no actual evidence suggesting ANY job loss. The best the opponents can do is to trot out a few retired Navy Admirals to suggest they think the plan might be bad.
Not Quite a Lie #4: Prop B & C Opposed by Mayor Faulconer, Former Mayor Sanders & Others
Actually this one is true. I just have become so used to these guys lying the sub-headline just typed itself. It’s worth drilling down into anyway.
We’ll skip right over the Republican politicians dependent on the industry for campaign contributions and go right to “others.”
Their “coalition” looks mighty similar to the ones who’ve backed every right wing/developer cause in recent years. For instance, the “San Diego Port Tenants Association” is just about first out the gate every time to support Carl DeMaio’s candidacies, causes and plagiarised reports.
The so-called Barrio Logan Smart Growth Coalition (a front group for these corporate interests) is such an important endorsement –they want it to seem like there’s community support–that they’re listed twice on the endorsement page of their web site.
But mostly what we’re talking about are high ranking retired Naval officers, many of whom now have defense industry consulting jobs working for those funding of the “No on B&C” group supplementing their pensions.
Via Matt Potter at the Reader:
Call it the ex-admirals’ political ball. In any case, it may be one of San Diego’s biggest masquerades since Mardi Gras.
A longtime General Dynamics executive has signed the ballot argument against a community plan on next month’s ballot as a retired admiral, omitting any mention of his employer, which is footing much of the bill of a costly referendum campaign to defeat the plan….
…General Dynamics owns National Steel and Shipbuilding, the military contracting operation that on April 28 pumped $250,000 into the campaign to defeat Prop C and its sister measure Proposition B. NASSCO had previously come up with at least $200,000 to help pay for a $729,000 referendum drive by military contractors to force the Barrio Logan plan to the ballot.
“Retired military leaders are urging you to vote NO on Propositions B and C,” says Slaght’s argument, which also bears the signature of Mark Balmert, another retired rear admiral and currently director for strategic planning and business development for AMSEC, a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls, another defense-contracting giant that is spearheading opposition to the community plan.
As in Slaght’s case, Balmert’s designation says that he is a retired rear admiral, making no mention of his current employer, which has contributed $100,000 to the effort to torpedo the plan. Both signatures are dated March 18, according to the document posted online by the city clerk’s office.
And in retired Admiral Balmert’s case:
José Luis Betancourt has joined Republican ex-mayor Jerry Sanders in asserting in a U-T San Diego op-ed piece that the proposal would be “a dangerous first step toward the closure of the shipyards and the loss of thousands of good middle-class jobs.”
Betancourt knows something about losing a job.
The ex–rear admiral was the government’s so-called “Navy mayor” here and worked briefly as school-district administrator. Betancourt — who has lately been appearing in the pages of U-T San Diego, owned by Barrio Logan plan foe and real estate development mogul Douglas Manchester — is a confessed procurement miscreant.
On July 11, 2007, according to a news release issued that day by U.S. Attorney Karen Hewitt, the newly retired Betancourt copped a plea to charges of illegally helping the Accela Group — one of his consulting clients — get a fat government contract from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, otherwise known as SPAWAR.
From City Beat:
The Barrio Logan Community Plan is good for the residents of Barrio Logan because it gives them what most other San Diegans take for granted: protection from polluting industry. It creates the kind of buffer zone that you would insist upon in your neighborhood. It will be confusing to voters whether to vote yes or no. Just remember, a yes vote preserves the community plan. Commit this to memory: Vote yes on Props. B and C.
City of San Diego Proposition A
City of San Diego Elections Charter Amendment, Measure A
Ripped straight from Registrar of Voters Sample Ballot
Measure A would alter the city charter to make its election process more compatible with state law. It would also give the city elections office more time to mail out ballots, count ballots and certify election results.
Measure A would improve the elections process in the city in two important ways:
It would protect the voting rights of military voters and other overseas voters by allowing more time for ballots to be mailed out and for the counting and certification of submitted ballots.
It would make the elections process compatible with the process mandated by state law.
There is no known opposition to Proposition A
State of California Proposition 41
California Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act
Referred by legislature; Vote was unanimous in both houses
“Authorizes $600 million in general obligation bonds for affordable multifamily supportive housing to relieve homelessness, affordable transitional housing, affordable rental housing, or related facilities for veterans and their families.”
“Provides funding for programs to address homeless veterans and those at risk of becoming homeless and annual evaluations of the effectiveness of housing programs funded by the bonds.”
“Appropriates money from General Fund to pay off bonds.”
Fiscal impact statement:
“Increased state bond costs averaging about $50 million annually over 15 years.”
There is no formal opposition to Proposition 41
Brian Brady over at San Diego Rostra has posted an article saying 41 should be opposed because you can’t trust the State of California
From the Sacramento Bee:
Proposition 41, the Veteran Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014, would repurpose $600 million of unspent bonds in the state’s veterans home loan program to build transitional housing and services for homeless vets.
As so many homeless advocates know, providing a place to sleep doesn’t keep everyone off the streets. For that reason, the program wisely includes services to deal with associated problems such as counseling and care for drug and alcohol addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.
This would still leave $500 million for the home loan program, which will be plenty to meet the needs of the California veterans looking to buy. Demand has been decreasing over the last decade due to a combination of factors, including the economic downturn and the availability of other home loan programs for veterans.
State of California Proposition 42
California Compliance of Local Agencies with Public Act
An amendment to the State Constitution; Vote was unanimous in both houses
“Requires local government agencies, including cities, counties, and school districts, to comply with specific state laws providing for public access to meetings of local government bodies and records of government officials.”
“Eliminates requirements that the State reimburse local government agencies for compliance with these laws.”
Fiscal impact statement:
“Reduced state payments to local governments in the tens of millions of dollars annually.”
“Potential increased local government costs of tens of millions of dollars annually from possible additional state requirements on local governments to make information available to the public.”
It was opposed by Rural County Representatives of California, but I was unable to locate their actual arguments.
A concern of mine:
There is a poorly written portion of the act allowing the Legislature and governor to alter the laws at any time. Thus lawmakers could effectively change the Constitution without voter approval.
From the Oakland Tribune:
Prop. 42 would change the state Constitution to remove the reimbursement mandate for the Public Records Act. State government would no longer be financially liable. A similar requirement that the state reimburse local governments for compliance with the open-meeting law was lifted as part of a 2012 ballot measure.
There’s no reason the state should pay Walnut Creek, Oakland or San Jose for merely providing public records or proper notice of meetings. Local government should not receive reimbursement for fundamental transparency.
If approved, Prop. 42 would also elevate to the state Constitution requirements that local governments follow the records act and the Brown Act, the open-meeting law that requires local agencies conduct their business in public.
PostScript: Enjoy the moment. Can you think of any other time someone’s writing about about saying “Yes” on all the issues listed on the ballot being the right thing to do? Aren’t you tired of the “No-No-No” we see so often in contemporary politics ?
You have until May 19th to register to vote in this election.