Property measure heats up Yuba County ballot
• MEASURE T – Preserve Farmlands and Open Space.
• MEASURE U – Wheatland Union High School District bond measure.
• MEASURE V – Yuba County Board of Education reduction in trustees from seven to five.
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Yuba County voters face three ballot measures on Nov. 6, but it's safe to say most voters, by signs alone, are only familiar with one: Measure T.
The measure is designed to protect open space and agriculture by mandating a public vote whenever a development would require changing zoning designated as natural resources in the county's General Plan.
Supervisor Hal Stocker, the measure's primary proponent, said the intent is simple: Prevent a future board from being convinced by a developer to change the plan for a new project.
"We need to get this on a different footing," said Stocker, who led the fight in 2008 against Yuba Highlands, a project supervisors approved but voters ultimately rejected. "We had a lot of people involved with creating the General Plan, and I think it's only right to get people involved again."
But the opposition group to the measure, Yuba County Alliance for Property Rights, contends while Measure T's goals are noble, its language indicates the result won't be.
Randy Fletcher, an alliance chair and Marysville insurance salesman, said the main person who will be affected if the measure passes is the small property owner who wants to do som thing simple.
"There are too many angles where they can get stuck in a quagmire of the whole thing," he said, adding the costs of special elections would also be prohibitive. "When people start talking about thousands, or tens of thousands, it'll kill the project."
Measure T opponents have said "project" could be applied to even something only requiring a use permit, though Stocker said that's not true.
He's also taken issue with the suggestion Measure T would affect private property rights, because it just moves votes on a project from supervisors to the people.
"What's the big deal?" he said, adding special elections won't be necessary because the county frequently has elections on an annual basis, or more often.
Still, the opponents include not only property rights advocates, but some farmers, including the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau board of directors.
While Stocker has said his measure is based on one adopted by Napa County voters several years ago, Fletcher said the Napa measure was carefully crafted and had a lot of support from agriculture before it made the ballot.
"It's a poorly written initiative that leaves you with a lot of loose ends," he said of Measure T.
Two other measures don't even have arguments against them on the county's elections website.
Measure U, which is only before voters in the Wheatland Union High School District, would allow the district to issue $9 million worth of bonds to fix up Wheatland High, while Measure V, before all county voters, would reduce the Yuba County Board of Education from seven members to five.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.