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Speakers Corner: Measure CC Untrue to Greenbelt’s legacy

By Martha Lydick

 

Laguna Beach Greenbelt Inc. and other supporters of Measure CC expect voters to accept a biased, self-serving interpretation of the ballot they wrote, using pretty pictures of uninhabited canyon scenes to say “trust us” to manage public use of “open space” in residential neighborhoods.

Instead of accepting anyone’s interpretation of Measure CC, Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association (LBTA) urges voters to read the actual language that will become law if it is approved.

LBTA correctly has informed voters approval of Measure CC will give an unelected committee of political appointees in City Hall unprecedented power over open space policy for at least 20 years.

This new body will have the power to approve ad hoc purchases of parcels scattered throughout town with a $1.5 million annual budget. The City Council’s retained power of final approval is subject to legal and political encumbrances mandating that any deviation from plans of the “Citizens Oversight Committee” (COC) must be “justified in writing” by the City Council.

Measure CC also requires the City Council to revise the municipal mode and property use regulations to conform with COC “recommendations” once adopted.  Supporters want you to believe all this is part of “completing the Greenbelt,” but Measure CC is not an “inner greenbelt” at all.  It is a trojan horse ballot proposal written deceptively to create the false appearance that the COC will merely make “recommendations.”

Since when does our City Council need to adopt recommendations or “justify” its actions to an unelected committee that it appoints? One LBTA member correctly predicted the COC would be more of a political pit bull off its leash than a watchdog.

Supporters tout the “volunteer” status of “unpaid” COC members, but sponsors of Measure CC who will control the COC do not want a mere stipend. They want power over a $30 million stream of taxpayer dollars, exempt from any cutbacks on essential city services.   Sure their meetings will be a very public political circus, but the COC’s  “oversight” of transactions with lobbyists for “willing sellers” and city staff required by Measure CC to support COC operations will not be transparent.

It is accurate that in 1990 LBTA supported funding the canyon open space purchase from other public and private sources instead of a new tax, but it also is true that LBTA members marched and campaigned for the canyon conservancy in 1990.

LBTA members opposing Measure CC also knew Jim Dilley personally, and at his request worked with him closely as far back as 1969 to realize his dream of a Greenbelt.

Dilley’s genius was he understood how to balance social and economic issues on public use of uninhabited open space with distinctly separate interests arising from public use of scarce open space in inhabited residential areas.  Dilley knew the difference between open space outside of town and public use of unused parcel space in town.

Measure CC supporters are wrong, the job of creating the Greenbelt and Canyon Conservancy was substantially done by 1990. Laguna Greenbelt Inc. needs to re-focus on stewardship of that legacy, instead of spending donor funds on political ads for schemes like Measure CC.

Going forward, purchase of unused parcels in town should continue to be done on a case-by-case basis and paid from existing revenues, as determined by our elected City Council. Democratic local government that respects property rights and understands the impact of public use lands in our neighborhoods is also a legacy we value, with the same dedication to sound civic principles that motivated LBTA members to support Dilley and the Greenbelt back in 1969.

Don’t depend on supporters or opponents to help you decide how to vote, read Measure CC for yourself.

 

Martha Lydick, president, Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association

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