Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | May 30, 2006

Primary ballot recommendations

I’m sharing more of my June primary ballot votes, this time on two measures that aren’t receiving much attention.

Earning my no vote is Measure B, which basically tells County Supervisors the minimum amount they can spend on various parks-related projects.

Don’t misunderstand: I don’t think that parks are unimportant or undeserving of county funds. Instead, the reason I’m voting no on Measure B is that I really dislike ballot-box budgeting.

We elect supervisors, city councils, school boards, legislators and the like to make the tough fiscal decisions. How a person or a municipality or a business spends its money tells us a lot about their priorities.

As voters, we skew that process and tie elected officials’ hands when we tell them – as we would if Measure B passes – that for the next dozen years they must transfer an amount equal to “$0.01425 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of all real and personal property commencing” from the general fund to the county parks fund for “the acquisition, development, maintenance, and operation of parks.”

If Measure B passes, it further restricts county supervisors because it also requires that they use “at least 15 percent of the [county park] fund for the acquisition of real property and at least 5 percent of the fund for park development for county park purposes.” (These quotes are from the impartial county counsel analysis of Measure B, posted at http://www.smartvoter.org.)

Consider the threats that face us today – bird flu, West Nile virus, earthquakes, floods, terrorism, to name just a few – to which we rightly expect our government to quickly and effectively respond. I’m hard pressed to see the wisdom in building inflexibility into a system that needs to be nimble.

I love parks and expect that as conditions permit our county supervisors will continue to fund them appropriately. If they don’t, I won’t vote to re-elect them.

But if they need to spend funds on a higher priority with little notice, I want county supervisors to be able to move funds quickly and legally.

Measure B limits their ability to do that. I’m voting no on Measure B.

I’m voting yes, however, on Measure H, which corrects a shortsighted planned unit development ordinance adopted in Morgan Hill in September 1987, several years before I moved to town.

I wish I knew more about why the original Cochrane Plaza Shopping Center PUD specifically excluded grocery stores, but I don’t have that history. However, given the housing growth in Morgan Hill, especially around the north end of town, it’s a restriction that has clearly outlived its usefulness to residents, if it ever had any.

Now, according to an argument in favor of Measure H that is signed by all five members of Morgan Hill City Council, with the planned move of the Cochrane Plaza Target store to another location, “the owner of the shopping center has asked that the allowed uses be expanded to provide maximum flexibility to find and attract new businesses to the shopping center now occupied by Target. Only the voters can change the zoning at Cochrane Plaza.”

Absolutely, I’m voting yes on Measure H. I’m happy to make it easier for retailers to locate in Morgan Hill. We have a tough enough time competing with the retailing goliath that Gilroy has become.

Maybe Morgan Hill can narrow its focus and aim to become South County’s upscale shopping center. For example, in the grocery store arena, it could become the region’s specialty foods mecca.

Need bulk hot dog buns? There’s Costco or Wal-Mart in Gilroy.

Want one-of-kind breads, perhaps made from organic or an unusual combination of grains? Let’s make Morgan Hill the foodie destination in South County.

With a Trader Joe’s coming to Morgan Hill at the end of the year, Poppy’s Fish, Poultry & More currently offering an array of fine meats and cheeses, and the downtown farmer’s market’s weekly smorgasbord of succulent produce, I think a Whole Foods would fit the specialty foods picture perfectly.

I’m as much bargain lover as foodie, so I’ll admit to being a bigger fan of TJ’s than Whole Foods (a friend calls it Whole Paycheck), but I’m sure I could lighten my wallet at a Whole Foods should one decide to call Morgan Hill home. I know many South County residents have been hankering for a Whole Foods for years.

Morgan Hill residents, please join me in voting yes on Measure H.

Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce, how can we lure a Whole Foods to town?

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