Three ballot measures that could change the face of Ventura forever

October 15, 2009

Last year’s presidential election set a precedent for change in these harsh economic times. People demanded some major changes from the status quo when voting in Obama, the polar opposite of GW.

In the year since, it seems like nothing that arrives on ballots is a small or insignificant item; in 2009, the standard is to enact big-time change.

It’s none so more evident than in Ventura, where we’ll be faced with voting on three ballot measures that could forever alter the city forever.

City officials have asked voters to approve a half-percent sales tax called Measure A to supplement and add to their budget weakened by the economy and state cuts.

Measure B, a citizen-driven initiative, looks to impose a 26-foot height limit on buildings across the entire city.

And Measure C, the “big box ballot,” looks to prohibit superstores by limiting the amount of square footage a retailer can expand to.

Here are what some proponents and opponents have said so far, summed up:

-Measure A is good because the city needs funding for services like public safety. Without the revenue, they could be cut further or deleted altogether.

-Measure A is bad because it gives people less incentive to spend. People are spending less in this economy anyway.

-Measure B is good because it preserves ocean views and halts rampant development that makes every building in town a skyscraper.

-Measure B is bad because it prevents growth.

-Measure C is good because it stops larger corporate retailers from coming in and squashing smaller stores. Plus, it curbs traffic and crime.

-Measure C is bad because it prevents growth (and a free retail market).

Without taking an official stance yet, my take is that the measures are intertwined … and any combination of pass/fail could yield different, permanent results.

If people are less compelled to spend with higher sales taxes, businesses could, in effect, be discouraged from coming here. They could be discouraged further if they’re prohibited from building to certain heights or expanding to certain lengths. Profitable retailers may forever rule out the Ventura coast as a viable location.

However, in regards to measures C & A, a series of big box retailers could crop up around town and put out of business other smaller stores, producing a boycott reaction from people who are once again less compelled to spend because their favorite stores have fallen by the wayside.

It’s double-edged, in a way and there’s little in between. Ventura could easily become the new Los Angeles, or the town resistant to anything remotely metropolitan and urban.

Whether or not these results are good or bad are in the eyes of the voting public.

We need to find that balance, though any combo of votes on measures A, B or C will have effects that, once in place, can change the face of this town forever … fiscally and culturally.

The thing is to just get out and vote … and vote wisely.

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