The controversial Measure Y was shot down Tuesday with 69.4 percent of Newport Beach voters checked the “no” box, according to the unofficial results.
As of Wednesday night, the measure, which would have amended the land use element of the city’s general plan, failed with 13,781 no votes and 6,078 yes votes, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
Results are still unofficial until additional vote-by-mail ballots, paper ballots and provisionals cast at the polling places are all counted. On Wednesday night, there were an estimated 135,540 ballots left to count for the entire county.
The no votes had a big lead early on.
As early as 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, when only 19 precincts out of 74 in Newport Beach had reported, Measure Y was leaning heavily toward the no vote with 67.6 percent.
By 11:40 p.m. 52 precincts were completed and the no lead slightly increased to 69.4 percent.
At the end of the night, 69.5 percent had voted no.
“I am very pleased that so many Newport Beach residents answered the call to activism,” Measure Y opponent Dennis Baker wrote in an email. “A big thank you to Newport Beach Voters. You did good and you did it well.”
The outreach, door to door efforts and signs in peoples yards that made this happen, he said.
Stop Polluting Our Newport will continue to monitor what is happening in the city, Baker added.
“We will pick our battles carefully and also work with the council to hopefully avoid battles whenever possible,” he said.
On the other side of the issue, Measure Y supporters Mayor Pro Tem Ed Selich and former mayor Don Webb reacted to the vote.
“It was a complex issue for the voters to understand,” Selich wrote in an email. “Many people I talked to did not understand it and in an abundance of caution did not vote for it. Others, of course, voted against it because they believed the arguments of the ‘No’ campaign. The voters gave their opinion and life in Newport Beach will go on.”
“Those that voted have expressed their opinion and I am sure the new city council will take this into consideration as they move forward,” Webb concluded.
The two sides were showcased at several community forums at which both Webb and Baker spoke.
Following the vote, Baker had some final thoughts on the issue.
“Representative government functions until the representatives forget who they are representing,” Baker wrote. “Greenlight in 2000 and now Measure Y will continue to occur periodically because people, both the public and those elected have short memories, usually about 10 to 15 years. Companies like The Irvine Company don’t depend on memory. They are always looking ahead and planning based on events of the past. It is no coincidence that the same tactic that was successful in 2006 to slip new large scale development through was used again this time. Ed Selich asked, and I paraphrase, ‘What’s the big deal? It’s the same thing that was done in 2006.’ In 2006 the public saw only the good things that masked the less desirable, so why not try it again. This time the process was arrogantly blatant, assuming the public and organizations like SPON were gullible, complacent and could be bought off with the promise of big development fees and conned by a very deceptive ‘impartial’ analysis and misleading advertising and mailings. No mention of increased development, yet that is actually the only thing that required a vote and was the total content of Measure Y. What’s wrong with that picture?”
Fellow Measure Y opponent and city watchdog Jim Mosher said he was very gratified with the results.
“At the brief court hearing back in August where Susan Skinner & Bert Ohlig tried to quash the misleading ballot language of Measure Y, Judge Miller, paraphrasing former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said something like ‘the remedy for bad speech is more speech,'” Mosher wrote in an email. “It may seem trite, but I think we are fortunate to live in a country where those who feel the government’s speech is bad are relatively unfettered in their ability to counteract it with a healthy dose of what we feel is good speech injected into the marketplace of ideas.”
“Message Y has been entirely about counteracting bad speech with good speech,” he added.
“But getting that message to the public at large is a formidable task requiring the concerted efforts of a great many dedicated people whose concerns about the future of their community obviously differed from those of the largely faceless people promoting Y,” he continued. “And we are very fortunate that a sincere and honest message delivered by real people can still triumph over a message supported largely by dollars (as of the week before the election, YES had spent over $263k vs. under $42k for NO).”
“However, the greatest thanks is due to the VOTERS who responded to our message and did what they thought was best by voting NO. It was especially gratifying to see that Measure Y was apparently defeated in every council district, so that although it has been described as “divisive,” it did not divide the city,” Mosher said.
Baker also gave a warning to current and future city councils about former councilwoman Jean Watt and a “pack of ladies” from SPON, who were strongly opposed to Measure Y.
“Don’t get these ladies riled up,” he said.
Baker also posed a question to the new city council elect: “While you were campaigning you all supported Measure Y and decried the expenditures on the new civic center. Not one of you asked, ‘Why did the city council direct staff to spend $850,000 for outside consulting in addition to loads of staff time to do the work that normally is paid for by the developer for the background work preceding a development?’”