Ventura View Protection Ordinance Initiative, Measure B (November 2009)
If Measure B had been approved, it would have capped the height of any new buildings in most of Ventura at 26 feet for up to two years. During that two-year period, a "view-protection ordinance" would have been written by a 23-person committee consistenting primarily of Measure B supporters.
The question asked on the ballot was, "Shall an initiative ordinance be adopted to implement general plan objectives, to preserve viewsheds by establishing a 23-member View Resources Board appointed predominantly by VCORD to prepare a View Protection Ordinance (VPO); enact a temporary moratorium on new development approvals exceeding 26 feet in height in specified areas until VPO approval the VPO or allow View Resources Board member(s) to submit VPO initiative to voters?"
The initiative campaign to put Measure B on the ballot was supported by a group called the Ventura Citizens’ Organization for Responsible Development (VCORD).
VCORD was founded by Camille Harris, who also ran for the Ventura City Council on the November 3 ballot. She said, "The administration at City Hall believes they know what’s best for us, and we simply do not share all of their vision."
Diane Underhill, a spokeswoman for Measure B, gave these reasons for a "yes" vote.
- If voters reject Measure B, "then our sweeping east/west views will be replaced by concrete canyons and visual barricades."
- Existing ordinances do not "prevent incompatibly tall buildings from walling off our views to the surrounding environment."
- "Measure B allows appointed neighborhood representatives from all parts of the city, plus a community representative from the Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, City Council, Planning Commission and planning staff to reach out to their districts and then write a view-protection ordinance that can be adopted by the council or go to voters."
- The development process in Ventura will be more predictable if Measure B is adopted.
- "If Ventura voters want definitive rules dealing with neighborhood-specific policies to protect public views, then we must use Measure B’s process to amend the general plan to include them. If we do not address this issue now, it will be years before we have a chance to address it again — and by then it will be too late."
- Rob Corley, a school facilities planner, said, "When you read the details, there are drafting errors, process problems, and it will end up being a bad law." Corley is the chair of the View Protection Task Force created by the Ventura City Council.
- Environmentalist Rachel Morris of the anti-global warming group in Ventura called VCCool, opposed Measure B. She said it will encourage sprawl.
- The Democratic Club of Ventura originally endorsed Measure B but at a meeting in late September rescinded its endorsement, opting instead to take a neutral position.
- City Attorney Ariel Calonne said that the part of Measure B that gives a private group the right to appoint members to a city commission is in conflict with the city's charter.
- Community activist Marie Lakin said that the building height regulations are overly-restrictive, partly because Measure B would protect the viewshed of approximately 93% of the properties in the city versus the original motivation for view protection which sprang from trying to protect the ability of residents in bungalow homes in Midtown to see the hills without intervening tall buildings.
- Lakin also said that allowing the board of VCORD, which is registered as a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization, to decide who appoints the View Resources Board is "like letting the ACLU appoint judges, or letting the AFL-CIO appoint the National Labor Relations Board."
- The process proposed in Measure B "completely bypasses legally required review by the Planning Commission."
- The editorial board of the Ventura County Reporter. They wrote, "Measure B complicates this situation and dilutes any central planning by granting power to a new initiative-defined board. The Reporter applauds the effort of local citizens and organizations to evoke change, but believes this measure is too restrictive and divisive."
- Website of "Yes on B" campaign
- Ballot language of Measure B
- Full text of Measure B
- City attorney's impartial analysis of Measure B
- Arguments in favor of and against Measure B
- Rebuttals to arguments in favor of and against Measure B
- Measure B election results
- Ventura County Star, "Measure B seeks limit to Ventura structures", October 4, 2009
- Ventura County Star, "Protects city's priceless views, promotes business", October 4, 2009
- City attorney's analysis of Measure B
- Ventura County Star, "My view: this ballot measure is fatally flawed", October 4, 2009
- Ventura County Reporter, "Be responsible and vote this Election Day", November 22, 2009