Measures on the November Ballot for Orange County Cities

September 7, 2020 Updated: September 8, 2020

IRVINE, Calif.—Some cities in Orange County have set local measures for voters to decide upon this November. Here is a summary, city by city, of what will be on the ballot Nov. 3.

Cypress

Measure P would amend the city charter so the time allotted to fill city council vacancies is increased from 30 days to the 60 days allowed by state law. In addition, the measure seeks to change city council election rules—last updated in 1977—so that they adjust with changes in California’s statewide election laws.

Lastly, the amendment would permit official notices to be posted on the city’s website and in a minimum of three public places designated by the city council.

Costa Mesa

Measure Q would allow the city to authorize, regulate, and tax the storefront sale and delivery of cannabis. The measure would place limits on the locations of cannabis establishments; impose a 4 to 7 percent gross receipts tax on retail cannabis businesses; and it is expected to raise $3 million annually for public services.

Fullerton

Measure S is an ordinance authorizing the city to impose a 1.25 percent local sales tax. Presently, only 1 percent of the 7.75 percent combined rate of all state and local taxes is dedicated to the city of Fullerton. The new proposal would raise the combined tax rate to 9 percent.

After deducting administrative costs, tax proceeds would be deposited into the general fund for various services throughout the city. The ordinance is estimated to generate some $25 million annually.

Proponents for Measure S claim the revenue is critical to ensure quality of life and public safety by maintaining prompt 911 emergency responses, repairs to streets and roads, addressing homelessness, keeping public areas clean, and retaining local businesses and jobs. They also highlight the fact that these funds can’t be touched by the county or state.

Opponents suggest a tax increase will bail out poor management, excuse irresponsible policy decision, and encourage more of the same. They contend that the money generated will not improve homelessness and will displace state and county funding.

Measure U would amend the municipal code to prohibit the sale, possession, and use of all fireworks in the city. Professional fireworks approved by the fire chief with appropriate licenses and permits would be exempted.

Those who oppose Measure U say the amendment would take away millions of dollars nonprofit community groups have earned through firework sales. Community members against the measure point out that voters approved Safe and Sane Fireworks as recently as 2012.

Laguna Woods

Measure V asks voters’ input on whether the city should consider changing its municipal code to permit marijuana dispensaries to operate on as-of-yet unspecified commercial premises within city limits. As an advisory vote, this measure only allows voters to express their opinion on the issue. The outcome is non-binding on decision makers.

La Habra

Measure W would authorize the city council to impose a tax on cannabis businesses. The tax would be under 2.5 percent of gross receipts for distribution and testing business and up to 6 percent for other cannabis businesses. The proposal would also allow the city council to regulate and authorize permits for up to four delivery-only retail cannabis businesses without storefronts. All proceeds would go into the city’s general fund and be available for any lawful municipal purpose.

Measure X would amend the city’s General Plan by requiring voters to approve any action to enable land development in “Open Space” areas. The measure would also require the conservation of open spaces and parks to be promoted throughout the city. The proposed measure would also apply to any privately-owned area designated as an “Open Space” in the General Plan.

Proponents state Measure X will allow voters to maintain “ultimate power” over land development that might contribute to increased traffic, parking shortages, overcrowding, greenhouse gas, and loss of their “suburban way of life.” Supporters are primarily comprised of a grassroots coalition of La Habra taxpayers concerned with repercussions of over-development.

Opponents of the measure assert that it would reduce local control by empowering wealthy out-of-town interests, facilitate a loss in funding for parks, public safety, and city services, and generate an incentive for unhealthy development. They further argue that proponents for the measure have engaged in an effort to thwart the city-approved Master Plan of the Westridge Development and Golf Course.

Epoch Times Photo
Voter Becky Visconti completes her mail-in ballot in Laguna Niguel, Orange County, Calif., on Oct. 24, 2018. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Los Alamitos

Measure Y would authorize a 1.5 percent sales tax within the city, the revenues of which would go into the general fund. The stated purpose of the measure is to offset the budget deficit that is projected to grow from $1.6 million in 2021–22 to more than $3.4 million in 2027–28.

Opponents of the measure say this is poor timing for a tax increase, pointing out that unemployment in the city is currently more than 14 percent.

Newport Beach

Measure Z would amend the city charter to establish the powers and duties of the Harbor Commission, thereby formalizing their responsibility to advise the city council on all matters pertaining to harbor improvements, regulations, use, control, and operations.

Proponents say the Harbor Commission’s specific expertise is critical when it comes to operational, environmental, and regulatory guidance. Officially placing the commission in the city charter will protect it “from future political whims” and allow its work to “continue unfettered by future local politics,” according to the argument in favor of Measure Z authored by Mayor Will O’Neill, Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery, and Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield.

Opponents contend that the measure is poorly written and inadequately reviewed: it doesn’t guarantee that future city councils won’t be able to bypass the commission’s recommendations if they chose to do so. Furthermore, the division of labor between the Harbor Commission and the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission remains unresolved.

Orange

Measure AA is a petition-generated referendum to a 2019 resolution that approved the Trails at Santiago Creek project. The measure would allow 128 single-family homes on about 40 acres and designate more than 68 acres for open space, creek restoration, and public multi-use recreation trails.

Proponents highlight the fact that the project will create a total of 120 acres of new open space for the public—thanks to a 50-acre donation from the property owner—at no cost to taxpayers. A “yes” vote will provide $3 million for park and trail improvement and $1 million in traffic improvements by adding new lanes to Santiago Canyon Road and Cannon Street.

Opponents maintain that the 40 acres for new homes was originally slated for much-needed open space and the development will create more traffic congestion. They also say that the building site exists in a high-risk fire zone next to a former landfill that could expose families to methane gas and other hazards.

San Clemente

Measure BB would establish term limits for city council members. If approved, no member would be able to seek nomination or election after serving two four-year terms consecutively until they’ve stayed off city council for at least two years.

Tustin

Measure CC would add a section to the city code permitting city council members to receive a monthly salary of $600 beginning in November 2022. Tustin is one of only two cities in Orange County that don’t pay their city council members. In 2012, the city had voted to do away with compensation, which was about $11,000 annually, or about $26,000 including benefits, at the time.

City of Westminster

Measure DD would prevent city council members or the mayor from serving more than three four-year terms for any combination of the two offices.