In the primary election to be held on June 5, 2018, Martinez voters will be asked to vote for or against two local ballot measures know as Measure F and Measure I. Both measures deal with the protection of open space and parkland. The Martinez City Council placed Measure F on the ballot and Measure I has been on the ballot through a signature gathering effort. Because two somewhat similar measures are on the same ballot there will be some confusion so I will attempt to clear the confusion and point out the major differences by responding to the questions that were posed at a recent taping a round table forum on the issued at which I was the spokesperson for Measure F
To the average voter, Measure F and Measure I appear to be similar. What are the fundamental differences between the two measures?
The main critical difference between the two measures are that Measure F does not affect privately owned properties, Measure I affects over 500 parcels of private property in a variety of ways.
The Martinez City Council placed Measure F on the ballot in order to preserve and protect PUBLIC open space and park and recreation lands, and to prevent those lands from more intense development, except by vote of the people.
Measure F is extremely simple and exceedingly clear. NO Publically Owned Open Space or Parkland may be converted to any other use without a vote of the Martinez voters. Measure F does not change the use of these public assets, it strengthens the protections they have.
The lands covered by Measure F comprise approximately 1,706 acres of public open space and parklands. These lands are all owned by public entities, such as the City of Martinez and the East Bay Regional Park District. The map attached to Measure F shows the affected parcels very clearly.
On the other hand, Measure I is confusing, it applies more than one land use rule to hundreds of properties in the City. The rules in Measure I contradict one another.
Many experts who have reviewed Measure I believe it is inconsistent with the City’s Existing General Plan, state housing law, and the City’s new General Plan that the City has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on developing, and studying because it applies new restrictive rules to over 500 privately owned residential and commercial properties in the City. A judge has yet to rule on the legality of Measure I in this regard. You can review the report commissioned by the City on the effects of Measure I on the City’s website.
Because Measure I affects private property rights and requires a judge to rule on the developability of private property it will expose the city to numerous lawsuits paid for by the taxpayers and will likely increase the cost of housing in Martinez.
Growth in Martinez is inevitable. How do you believe that it should be managed to maintain a quality of life desired by residents? These measures seem directed to one project in particular, the former Pine Meadows Golf Course. Why shouldn’t the property owners be allowed to use the property as they wish and what are the implications for this property should either ballot measure pass?
Growth should be managed based upon a balancing of the needs of the community. Public open space and parkland should never be converted to other uses to accommodate growth. Maintaining our public open space and parkland is important to maintaining a quality of life desired by residents. However, maintaining roads and infrastructure, police services, park and recreation programs and other municipal services are also important to quality of life. Therefore, as a community we cannot remain stagnant – we must look at all reasonable and measured efforts to achieve fiscal sustainability in order to maintain City services and our quality of life.
The City has never sold or converted public open space to private development uses. However, we also cannot force private property owners to give up all economically viable use of their privately owned lands. Just because a private property owner voluntarily devotes private property to private recreational uses, such as a private golf course, does not convert that land to public property.
The City’s job is to review projects proposed for private property, to consider the environmental and other impacts of those proposals, to consider community input, community character, the needs of the community and the rights of the private property owners and to balance all of those interests before making a decision. Property owners should be able to use property in a manner that is economically viable but also that follows the rules established by the City and that balances all of the interests.
Why did the City move so quickly to put this counter measure on the ballot rather than simply address Measure I?
The City Council did actually address Measure I first. City Council commissioned a report on the effect of Measure I to try to understand how Measure I would affect the City and its residents.
That report identified several problems with Measure I, including the effects of Measure I on private property in the City and the consistency of the measure with other sections of the General Plan.
The report noted that Measure I places significant restrictions on the development of private property in Martinez. Over 500 privately owned properties located in the City and the City’s Sphere of Influence are impacted by the restrictions of Measure I. Some of these parcels are located in residential subdivisions in areas such as Sunnyside Terrace, Muir Oaks, Alhambra Valley, Tavan Estates, Reliez Valley, Franklin Canyon, Vine Hill and other areas of the city. A copy of the report is available on the City’s website and a full list of the affected private property is included in the Report.
Measure F was proposed to support public open space and park protection very clearly by offering voters an alternative measure that protects a tremendous amount of true public open space and parkland in the City without affecting the rights of private property owners and avoiding years of costly litigation.
Picture Martinez 20 years in the future. How does the City look and what role would your measures play in that vision?
Looking into the future, I hope Martinez will remain a community with some of the largest areas of protected open space and parkland in California and that the City will continue to maintain its roads, infrastructure, police services, park and recreation programs and maintain a superior quality of life for its citizens. I hope that the Downtown and Waterfront will continue on the current path toward revitalization and that other areas of the City, such as the Pacheco corridor and south of Highway 4, will experience public and private investment to improve the quality of life for the citizens in those areas.