With Election Day just one day away, proponents and opponents of the Measure T ballot initiative are working till the last minute to rally their supporters and persuade any undecided voters left in Carpinteria to side with them.
Ann Sly, a spokeswoman for Vote Yes on Measure T, told the News-Press that she and other organizers are so busy that they didn’t have time to answer questions for this story.
“At this point we are still busy with canvassing, calling and trying to get the undecided voters,” she said.
Jason Rodriguez, a spokesman for Vote No on Measure T, told the News-Press that his group is constantly lobbying undecided voters.
“Always. We have run our No on T campaign very much on defense,” he said. “It has been our job to educate the public why T is not what it seems, so we have to react to a lot of false information circulating by the opposition.”
In prior interviews, Ms. Sly said Measure T needs to pass to stop a two-story boutique hotel with rooftop bar from being built where a downtown parking lot now stands by changing the lot’s zoning to open space/recreation.
The Vote Yes people have cited several reasons for doing so: protecting the Community Garden, saving open space, keeping downtown’s ocean views, preventing unwanted noise coming from the rooftop bar, preserving the city’s water supply and maintaining Carpinteria’s image as a beach community with small town charm.
But mostly, they say Measure T is needed to prevent development of public land by private business owners, a “slippery slope,” which once started with the building of the proposed Surfliner Inn, might not be able to be stopped.
The Vote No people, though, say Measure T, if passed, could lead to massive residential development on open space parcels, a claim Ms. Sly has denied.
They note that the Surfliner Inn project is still under review and has not been approved.
Bottom line for them is the preservation of the existing review process by city boards like the Planning Commission and City Council, people who have been elected and should be allowed to do their jobs, and city staff, who have the experience and technical experience to aid them in doing so.
They say it could set a dangerous precedent for residents to decide development/growth issues through ballot initiatives. This position was adopted by four out of five city councilmembers.
But Ms. Sly responded that the Vote Yes people had no choice because the City Council had ignored the overwhelming public sentiment against downtown private development, refusing even to allow residents to vote on a non-binding resolution.
The Vote Yes position has been endorsed by former mayor and council member Donna Jordan, former county supervisor Gail Marshall, and former mayor and council member Mike Ledbetter.
The Vote No position has been endorsed by four out of five city council members, the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Barbara Democratic Party, and “name” politicians like County Supervisor Das Williams and Congressman Salud Carbajal.
They told the News-Press they’ve just received endorsements from County Supervisor Gregg Hart and former County Supervisor Mike Stoker.
“Measure T could have unintended consequences,” Mr. Hart said. “We shouldn’t take a risk conducting local land use policy at the ballot box.”
“The proponents of Measure T have led a deceptive, misleading campaign to con voters into voting for Measure T,” Mr. Stoker said. “The fact is Measure T takes away the power of YOUR city council members and the Mayor to make land use decisions that they make after long, open and transparent public hearings.
“It also could arguably apply to ALL parcels in the City of Carpinteria, opening up the city to legal challenges that will be defended at taxpayers’ expense … taking away money in the city’s general fund that goes toward maintaining our roads, parks and recreational programs. I strongly urge you to vote NO on Measure T.”