Archive » October 23, 2008
MEASURES E AND F
By Wendy Thompson, Staff Writer
Measures E and F spur hotbed of discussion
Measures E and F on the Nov. 4 ballot would each prevent the Buellton City Council from annexing unincorporated lands into the city limits without a vote of the people.
The measures have caused controversy and confusion, since they are the same except the date they expire, 2025 and 2014, respectively, and will change the way land use decisions are made in Buellton.
To answer concerns, Steve Bennett, Ventura County Board Supervisor, addressed approximately 26 citizens, five city council candidates, and 3rd District Supervisor candidates Doreen Farr and Steve Pappas at a community forum Oct. 15 at Oak Valley School. Bennett shared his hands-on experience with Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB), since UGBs already are in effect in Ventura County.
Bennett, who has served as Ventura County Supervisor for eight years, a city council member for eight years and has helped pass UGBs in eight other cities, said that UGBs are very simple.
“Opponents make it sound complicated. Citizens can pass laws, and councils can pass laws,” he said. “A UGB says to elected officials, ‘Do what you said you were going to do … and it is only fair that you ask us, if you do something different.’”
Measure E would prohibit any annexation of land in the current city limits, unless for schools, parks or low-income housing, without a majority vote from the people.
The measure would be in effect until 2025, the same date the current general plan is up for review.
The measure was put on the ballot by the citizen group, Buellton is Our Town, which collected 608 signatures in two days to get the measure on the ballot. This was followed by the Buellton City Council having Rincon Associates conduct a study.
The council then voted 3-2 to place a modified version on the ballot, Measure F, which is the same as E but would expire in 2014 when the city’s housing element is up for review.
“Circumstances may dictate or warrant a review after a shorter period of time,” states Measure F.
Buellton City Council members Dale Molesworth, Ed Andrisek and Victoria Pointer, as well as Gerald Witcher, a Buellton planning commissioner, were the five people to sign Measure F.
Bennett countered the myths around UGBs – saying that although Southern California cities had not intended to grow together. He also spoke about the importance of community involvement in the planning process.
If you cannot convince a community that an annexation should be approved, then it isn’t a very good project to begin with, he said, adding that with UGBs, “Citizens are no longer playing defense – your bargaining position and power goes up dramatically.”
“This will make your town better, politically – it already has,” he said, pointing to city council candidates John Dorwin, James Neary, Holly Sierra, Jon Macaluso and Candice Signa (Dave King was not present). “No one used to run for city council.”
He said that UGBs also make things better economically and socially.
“This is what is most important, for people to feel a sense of community; feel connected, feel home,” he said. “Every city that has done this is a better community.”
Farr and Pappas commented. Farr said that she got into politics from a grassroots effort, similar to the BIOT group and was “glad we’ve come to this point” because protecting agricultural land was a priority for her.
Pappas agreed and also spoke against state-mandates for low-income housing.
“Our town should not be looked at; state-mandated housing should be abolished,” he said.
He added that the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments would be looking into this.
An audience member said that having the measure on the ballot had benefitted agriculture already, and had noticed farmers replanting their fields and working on their irrigation systems.
At the end of the forum, Buellton resident Peter Clayton performed a modified jingle “Measure E” set to the tune of the Beatles’ tune, “Let it Be.”
Though Measure F varies from Measure E in length of time that the measure would be in effect, BIOT members charge the Buellton City Council with creating Measure F to cause confusion.
BIOT also maintains that the sphere of influence study, which could have expanded Buellton five-fold, and was stopped by residents last year, had the same geographic boundaries as a proposal to annex land to the Buellton city limits.
That land is owned by Buell Ranch owner Norm Williams, whom BIOT claims has erected confusing political signs urging “No on Measures E and F.” According to a commission document obtained from BIOT, consultants Rich Untermann and Mark Edwards presented a plan on behalf of Williams to the city council on June 27, 2006 to annex the 1,000 acre Buell Ranch.
In the letter to the council, it states, “The Williams have a collective vision of the Buell Ranch as a quality new community capturing the best of the turn of the century Small Towns (sic). With a growth density of 3-4 units per acres, the land would provide sizeable growth opportunities for Bulleton (sic).”
Buellton is Our Town member Joan Hartman said, “Many of us have lived in Buellton for many years, but had never got involved with the community.”
BIOT charges that Political signs in Buellton are lies.
Buellton is Our Town has raised about $25,000 — $15,000 from individuals who live in ZIP code 93427 and the Santa Ynez Valley and $10,000 from the Fund for Santa Barbara.