Calif. voters weigh in on breakaway state, development, pot and more

Calif. voters weigh in on breakaway state, development, pot and more
Tom Knorr, chairman of the Measure A campaign in Tehama County, holds a State of Jefferson flag at his ranch house in Corning, Calif. (Terry Chea / Associated Press)

From the northernmost tip of Del Norte County to southern San Diego, Californians on Tuesday cast votes on local measures that tackled the breakaway State of Jefferson, regulation of medical marijuana grows and the divisive nature of urban development.

In what appears to be the first direct rebuke of the long-shot rural campaign to form a 51st state, Del Norte County voters were rejecting a measure that would have given the Board of Supervisors the green light to back the State of Jefferson venture.

Boards in Siskiyou, Modoc, Glenn and Yuba counties have voted to support the breakaway state since the movement gained steam last fall, contending that rural California is underrepresented, over-regulated and unduly dominated by urban policies and culture.

But in Del Norte and Tehama counties, elected leaders instead put the issue on the ballot, saying they would follow the lead of the people.

Opponents in Del Norte had argued that the county's poverty problem would only worsen without California's subsidy, and their logic appeared to be soundly prevailing. In Tehama County, however, an identical measure was headed safely to victory.

If enough counties were to back the notion, proponents wwould then press for a vote of the state Legislature and of Congress.

In Lake County, tucked against California's so-called Emerald Triangle, voters were moving to curtail medical marijuana grows. Prevailing late Tuesday was a referendum on a county ordinance that would ban outdoor grows in populated areas and limit them elsewhere. It would also cap indoor grows.

The Board of Supervisors passed the measure last winter but backers, anticipating a fight, placed the referendum on the ballot.

Meanwhile, a Lake County sales tax measure that would have dedicated a stream of revenue for a decade toward cleaning up Clear Lake's stinking algae blooms, fighting off invasive mussels and restoring wetlands was trailing the required two-thirds approval necessary for passage.

The "Healthy Lake Tax," backed by business, political and environmental groups as critical to the county's future, went down to defeat in 2012 with 63% of the vote. Although it surpassed that mark late Tuesday, the votes were still falling short.

In San Francisco, the waterfront skyline was the hot ballot topic with voters resoundingly approving a measure that would require development projects on waterfront Port of San Francisco property that exceed set height limits to go before voters rather than planners.

The 7 1/2-mile stretch in the economically booming city hosts prime real estate and has already been the subject of contentious battles to exceed designated height limits, which range from 40 to 82 feet. Opponents said Tuesday's proposal would strangle development of needed housing but voters indicated they want the final say.

Watsonville voters in the Pajaro Valley, meanwhile, were overwhelmingly approving a measure that would require ballot approval for proposed name changes to public parks, plazas and other landmarks. The measure stemmed in part from a bitter battle over a 2010 proposal to name the city plaza after iconic farmworker rights activist Dolores Huerta.

The debate has split the Latino-majority city along ethnic lines and pitted the Latino old guard against the new, with some leaders contending that the push for voter approval was an end run around district council leadership.

And in San Diego, two hotly contested ballot measures involving rezoning for a portion of Barrio Logan, a blue-collar, largely Latino neighborhood next to the San Diego Naval Base, were being soundly defeated.

The propositions would have restricted additional industrial uses in the neighborhood south of downtown and instead encouraged housing and shopping.

The measures were supported by neighborhood activists and the Environmental Health Coalition, which claim that the prevalence of industrial businesses next to homes has long caused health problems for Barrio Logan residents.

But Mayor Kevin Faulconer, business leaders and officials of the three nearby shipyards opposed the measures, arguing that they could cost jobs and possibly begin to drive the shipyards out of San Diego.

After the Democratic majority on the City Council passed a neighborhood plan for Barrio Logan, business leaders mounted a petition drive to force the two measures onto the ballot.