Measure D — Mission Viejo’s ‘Right to Vote’ initiative — was defeated yesterday with 61 percent of voters rejecting it. Yet Dale Tyler, who was one of the authors of the initiative, says he wants to do it all over again.
Proponents of the initiative said it would have protected the city’s character as a master planned community because voters would have had the final say over major land use zone changes. For example, a change in housing density would have required voters to sign off on the zone change in a citywide referendum, paid for by the business wanting the zone change.
But opponents countered that the initiative is written in a way that it would do just the opposite and open the door to affordable housing developers looking for creative ways to interpret the state’s affordable housing laws. They also said it would handcuff businesses from making expansions, such as a cancer wing for Mission Hospital.
“If it works, don’t fix it — and what’s even more important — if it works, don’t break it,” said Sherrri Butterfield, former Mayor of the city.
Tyler attributed the defeat of the initiative to a slew of mail pieces attacking it. He also said that when another major zoning change comes up that residents will rally against, proponents of the initiative will try once more to get it passed — a scenario Tyler is certain to happen.
Tyler said the fact that entities like the Building Industry of Southern California and the California Association of Realtors invested heavily in the campaign “further ratifies” the point that the council is influenced by developers and that the initiative is needed to protect the city.
“They were fighting to protect their ability to influence their representatives,” Tyler said.
An article in the OC Register reported that the opposition campaign was flush with $120,000 from its contributors. But Councilman Frank Ury attributed much of the opposition’s success to the lack of enthusiasm from the initiative’s proponents, who in the past have run aggressive — and successful — grassroots campaigns.
He said that the authors of the initiative likely understood the legal problems associated with its language, and that once those problems were brought to light, the campaign “ran out of gas.”
“That’s why you go out and pay for legal help, which they obviously didn’t.” Ury said. “I’ve never seen
them this deflated.”
Ury also said opposition to Measure D picked up steam when entities that would have been affected — like Mission Hospital — stepped up to help defeat the initiative.
Despite the opposition campaign’s success, Ury said his day was ruined when the Register reported Tyler as saying he wouldn’t lose any sleep over the initiative not doing well at the polls — noting that the city spent a lot of money on the special election.
“We depleted down our reserves by $287,000 for a special election that Dale doesn’t care about,” Ury said. “That’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever heard.”
— ADAM ELMAHREK