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Measure A

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I received five glossy full-color flyers in favor of Santa Clara County's Measure A, a land-use initiative that puts limits on rural development in the country, plus a glossy two-color flyer, plus a one-page photocopied sheet of paper from someone I don't know who lives on my street.

I also received three glossy full-color flyers opposed to Measure A.

The flyers in favor list an impressive array of supporters, many of whom I respect. Organizations such as the Audubon Society, Sierra Club, local League of Women Voters (which I'm surprised to learn has a male president), and Republicans for Environmental Protection. Elected officials including Anna Eshoo, Elaine Alquist, Byron Sher, John Vasconcellos, Liz Kniss, et alia. Lots of local city council members. Given who's endorsing this, I can probably come to a conclusion about my likely agreement with the measure without thinking too much further about it, but I wanted to say a little more about it.

The flyers opposed list other local council members, various taxpayer associations, various chambers of commerce, Laurie Smith (Santa Clara County Sheriff), and a bunch of local farms. Also, realtor associations.

The arguments from the farmers opposed to the measure are the most compelling to me, but various discussions seem to suggest that the measure may actually help farms, so it's hard to know which way to go on that count. The opponents also argue that if Proposition 90 passes, the conflicts with Measure A will result in huge lawsuits and big costs (but the San José Mercury News says that Prop. 90 will be a disaster regardless of Measure A). But I suspect that the biggest motivation behind the opponents to Measure A is, as the proponents claim, the real estate issue: there's lots of money to be made in developing land around here.

One of the pro-A flyers claims that "A vast majority of funds opposing Measure A come from the Los Angeles-based real estate industry." The footnote attached to that claim points to the CalAccess Campaign Finance site run by the CA secretary of state, which appears to be a great resource; but it doesn't appear to give information about the source of funds for county-specific measures. I'm not finding any sources giving details about the Los Angeles real estate thing, not even on the Yes on A website. So I'm a little dubious about that part.

But the strongest arguments in favor of A that I've seen come from the Mercury, in an endorsing article titled "Measure A protects rural land." In addition to arguing in favor of the measure, it provides a side article that claims that "Measure A foes stretch the truth," briefly rebutting three specific claims made by opponents.

All very interesting. But I suppose I should set aside the 30+ pages (depending on how you count) of flyers pro and con and move on to some other measure, proposition, or candidate that I might have more significant doubts about.

Or rather, I should probably move on to sleep. I'll try and get through the rest of this stuff in the morning.

1 Comment

I'm glad there's people like Jed out there who have a very thoughtful approach to voting...of the people who even take the time to register and vote, very few spend any meaningful time getting educated about the propositions, many of which appear to be written the most obfuscatory way possible.

For many of the propositions, it comes down to this--Proponents say: "It will accomplish A and prevent B," and opponents say, "no, it will prevent A and accomplish B." You may as well flip a coin.

As for the pro-A flyer claim that “A vast majority of funds opposing Measure A come from the Los Angeles-based real estate industry,” I got a good laugh out of that. To make a political point, there is nothing like invoking the spectre of the devilish and evil and beastly and corrupt and lower-than-a-snakes belly Los Angeles real estate industry (of which I am a part).

First, I have never even heard of this Measure A until today. Second, the large homebuilders who might be expected to have an interest in this type of measure are far more concerned right now with unloading excess land in their portfolios than creating new development opportunities. I'm not saying none of them donated; I'm just saying that it's not a priority for them right now, and I doubt they would be throwing large chunks of money at this. And finally, Los Angeles real estate investors may be the face of evil for some in the Bay Area, but people should remember where the vast majority of our investment funds come from... (hint: it's not fat cat high roller-type individuals from the entertainment industry.) Like many real estate investment shops around the state and around the country, our biggest investors are state pension funds and teachers' retirement funds. In our case, we only do well if the teachers' retirement fund does well. There is not a Daddy-Warbucks type individual behind the curtain plotting evil domination of Santa Clara County.




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