Commentary: Let's hope lawsuit fixes Measure Y's questionable description

It's rare when a lawsuit gives me hope, but the article by Emily Foxhall, "Lawsuit challenges measure's wording," (Aug. 16) was excellent news for the residents of Newport Beach, most of whom aren't eager to see their beautiful city ruined by more traffic and pollution.

This is just some of the harm that could result from the passage of Measure Y, a November ballot measure that would allow significant new residential and commercial development in Newport Beach.

Neither do those residents want to see the city pushing a measure that would cost more than it yields. You'd never guess it from the city's fiscal analysis, but Measure Y would not bring in new net revenue to Newport Beach. It would actually subtract from the $21,700,000 annual revenue benefit that the general plan would bring in without Measure Y.

The city's own analysis shows that, if implemented, Measure Y will create a net loss of $6.68 million a year and have a negative effect on the general plan's annual revenue benefit.

Words are powerful and can easily be used to confuse and mislead. The ballot language describing Measure Y actually claims that development will be reduced if Y passes, resulting in a reduction in traffic as well. This will almost certainly cause people to unknowingly vote against their own best interests.

My great thanks to Susan Skinner and Bert Ohlig, the Newport Beach residents who have legally challenged the highly questionable description of Measure Y. I hope they're successful in getting it changed to the fair, accurate and unbiased wording that voters deserve and the city has a legal obligation to supply.

When we go to the polls to elect our local representatives, we do it in good faith, trusting that they will use for the common good the power and influence that come with our votes, certainly not that they might knowingly mislead their entire constituency.

Orange County is currently in a development boom. According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, the county is No. 3 in the nation for construction. For that reason alone, Measure Y, which all but guarantees more high-intensity development in already congested areas like Newport Center and around John Wayne Airport, is a lose-lose proposition that raises more questions than it answers.

How likely is it that voters would agree to a plan that ultimately costs the city — and the public — money, in addition to generating fouled air and levels of traffic congestion that bring visions of the big discount chains on Black Friday?

SUZANNE FORSTER, who is active in the Banning Ranch Conservancy, lives in Newport Beach.

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