Do the Right Thing with Measure Y

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Lately I’ve been railing about Yes on Y’s abuse of the English language to get voters to suspend their disbelief that hundreds of thousands of square feet will reduce traffic.

Not to mention the use of scenic images of kayakers on Back Bay and bicyclists (at least the lucky ones who have survived riding on our heavily-trafficked streets) on mailers from the Strong Orange County Neighborhoods Political Action Committee,” sending the message that Measure Y aims “at Keeping Newport Beach Beautiful.”

As Election Day approaches, Yes on Y flyers and media ads are approaching flood tide. The deceptions are appalling.

Let’s count the ways:

  1. In a full-page Yes on Y ad that ran October 17 in the Newport Beach Independent, it states that “Measure Y is a thoughtful plan that builds off the success of the last General Plan Update.” Those at last summer’s meetings saw the Council rush its approval of Measure Y over the protests of Councilmember Nancy Gardner, who argued that more time was needed to properly address the details. Not exactly thoughtful.

And please remember that the only reason the residents of our city get to vote on changes to the General Land Use Plan is because in 2000 a group of citizens stood up to the very people – city council members and developers who wanted free rein to build — and fought hard to pass the Greenlight Initiative.

The Initiative is designed to give residents the voice to say “No” to just the sort of development contained in Measure Y.

In a telephone interview with Jean Watt, the 2013 Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year and a backer of Greenlight, she recalled several aspects of the resistance to that initiative.

“Greenlight would cause too many elections and cost the City money – but that turned out to be untrue,” she said. “We should trust our elected leaders – it’s their job to make these decisions…. And the Irvine Company said we didn’t need the initiative because they were never going to ask for another amendment to the General Plan.” (Oh, but they have.)

  1. Even stranger is the “Save Prop 13 Voters Guide” which advocates for Measure Y because a yes vote “Gives residents control over planning decisions & holds city leaders accountable.” That’s inaccurate. It’s the Greenlight Initiative that does that.
  2. Sherry Pollack, of Corona del Mar, recounted this experience in telephone and email interviews: “I went online to the Yes on Y website, and read about the CDM bypass proposal, and I signed up in support.”

But she dug deeper into Measure Y, went on the SPON website, and decided that the Yes campaign claims were misleading.

“I was voting yes because of the Corona Del Mar Bypass. But it seems like a small part of Measure Y and just the funding to discuss it, so I did not get the feeling it would ever happen. And the promise of less traffic, when Measure Y added commercial and residential buildings, did not make sense.”

Then friends told her that her name was included in a Yes on Y flyer, and subsequently an ad which appeared in both the Daily Pilot and the Newport Beach Independent.

“I was not happy about that,” she said.

Pollack then sent a communication addressed “To my friends in Newport Beach. My name was on a flyer to vote yes on Measure Y. To be clear I am voting No…. I dug past the pretty pictures to make sure I voted properly.”

  1. A great deal of money is being spent to ensure that Measure Y passes. Check out the Yes and No disclosure forms posted on the City website (

As Back Bay resident Jim Mosher pointed out in a telephone interview, “The funding of the two sides shows a very different picture. No on Y shows primarily small contributions from many members of the community, whose faces we know. Yes on Y is being funded by a number of PACs, which are themselves funded by other faceless PACs in a seemingly endless chain. It’s flagrantly not a resident-driven process.”

Do we really believe the Yes cash is flowing in to “keep Newport beautiful” and to “protect our coast?” Of course not. The money is flowing in from real estate development interests who want to circumvent the residents’ will.

Do the right thing – Vote no on Y.

A final thought. Local politicians willing to do the right thing by representing their constituents rather than special interests are clearly in rare supply. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

For 26 years, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has been hunkered down in Congress, never chairing a committee nor able to solely sponsor a bill into law. Costa Mesa City Councilmember and Republican Wendy Leece was so fed up with his lack-luster representation that she ran against him in the primary. She lost and later endorsed the Democratic candidate for the 48th District, Suzanne Savary. Count Leece among the embarrassed Republicans ready for positive change and willing to cross party lines to get it. A vote for Savary for Congress is another opportunity to do the right thing.

The writer is President of the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club. She can be reached at [email protected].


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