It’s not that I didn’t think of it before, but I regret I didn’t say more about this earlier in the Measure O campaign discussion -- a discussion I’ve been heavily involved in. (I'm "election exhausted ... and not as quick as I used to be.)
Let me start in by asking: What does the average voter think Measure O says? I think they believe it says:
1) keep the library where it is—don’t build a new building; 2) require that the farmers’ market and 10 trees stay where they are; 3) don’t build any kind of parking building on that site; and 4) slow down and come up with a plan B for an affordable housing project that will be stopped. Sure, a few who are following it more closely would say it contains more than this. But this is certainly what the proponents have been offering to the community for many months and it’s what almost everyone on either side of the issue believes Measure O is about.
This leads me to do something that I know will (again!) annoy some people and lead to the tuning out of the rest of this post. Yep, I’m going to say the word dishonest. But this is not one of those “they’re lying to you” kind of comments about dishonesty. It's not one of those posts where I list specific bullet points of their errors and misinformation.
It’s gentler than that—but also bigger. Here’s another question to make this point: Why did the authors of Measure O write a 13-page measure when one sentence would have done the job on the four main objectives stated above.
Here’s what Measure O easily could have said to accomplish the authors’ principal objectives: “Shall the voters of Santa Cruz direct the City Council to complete the renovation of the downtown library at its current location, keep the Farmer’s Market at parking Lot 4 without adding a parking structure there, and identify different sites for affordable housing?”
Now let’s ask: Why didn’t they just propose their measure this way?
Without being too heavily judgmental, I think it’s correct to say they really had more in mind, and they didn’t want most voters to pay attention to the other 12 pages of details. Hence, my statement about dishonesty. It's a strong assertion on my part so let me be very specific.
Here are a few of the “other” items included that have not caught many voters’ attention:
1) Tries to block a hotel on an unrelated site (Their ballot measure language effort on this turns out to be less than iron-clad but it was not a publicly-stated part of their initial agenda. No one was out there saying: sign this petition to stop a hotel.)
2) Sets parking policy and commercial use policies for downtown related to housing development. (This is one of the most harmful obscure provisions of Measure O— one that will make it even harder to build affordable housing projects downtown)
3) Ensures that the area between Cathcart and Laurel -- the area with the most new housing and new activity downtown in the next couple of years -- will have highly limited public parking. (Fewer than 75 spaces.)
4) Ensure that there will a huge absence of parking for hundreds of new affordable apartments downtown – unless one believes that parking 4 and 5 blocks away from home is useful for families and individuals residing downtown. 5) Makes an effort to move some parking revenue to four other uses (but leaves it completely unclear which of those uses are prioritized - and is silent on how much would really be available for any of those uses)
There are a few more items like this tucked into Measure O… but we’re all so tired at this point.
This is the team that touts their love of good public process?
Clearly, the Yes campaign has has found some good political tactics but not the kind discussion of public policy we need.