Environmental Measures in 3 Cities Receive Mixed Results

Times Staff Writer

A San Diego initiative that would cancel a 5,100-acre development was approved in balloting Tuesday, but a Santa Barbara measure severely restricting onshore oil development lost as voters in scores of California communities went to the polls to decide races, including municipal offices and school boards.

In San Francisco, voters soundly defeated another environmental measure that would have banned all high-rise development for three years, with 59% of the voters opposing it. However, Mayor Dianne Feinstein’s proposal to repeal $28 million in comparable-worth raises for 7,000 city workers won by a 3-1 margin.

In Los Angeles County, voters filled offices and decided ballot questions in nine cities, while electing members to 67 school boards and nine community college district boards. Another 17 school board races and six other elections were contested in Ventura County.


Environmentalists and other slow-growth advocates in San Diego were incensed by a pattern of City Council decisions culminating in a September, 1984, vote to develop land theoretically protected until 1995, and created the ballot measure to nullify that vote.

The initiative strips the council of its authority to approve development proposals on the city’s so-called urban reserve--52,000 acres set aside for future development--and subjects those proposals to citywide elections.

In the most expensive election in Santa Barbara County’s history, the proposal to restrict onshore oil development was soundly defeated. Opponents, financed by major oil companies, spent $1.2 million, while supporters spent $75,000.

The measure would not have stopped oil production in the Santa Barbara Channel, but was aimed at protecting air quality, its backers said. It would have tightly controlled onshore satellite oil facilities, such as processing plants that are essential to offshore exploration and production.

Although Santa Barbara County supervisors had already approved stringent measures regulating onshore oil development, environmentalists placed the measure on the ballot to protect against any possibility that officials might yield to pressure from large oil companies.

San Francisco’s failed proposition to ban all high-rise hotel and office development for three years was opposed by an alliance of business interests and mainstream “controlled-growth” citizen groups. The measure would have banned not only the construction but also the conversion or modification of buildings containing more than 50,000 square feet.


The unusual comparable-worth measure defeated Tuesday had already been approved by the Board of Supervisors. The supervisors’ plan, adopted earlier this year, gave $28 million in raises to 7,000 city workers in jobs traditionally held by women and minorities--raises first disguised as $5-a-day “meal allowances.”

The allowances were scrapped when city officials learned that they might be illegal, and the money was placed in a special reserve fund until the board could figure out how to legally distribute it.

Feinstein vetoed the $28-million outlay, saying she supports comparable worth in concept but was worried by a looming $76-million deficit. When her veto was overridden, she ordered a ballot proposal to repeal the already abandoned meal allowance and the reserve fund that replaced it.

Since the fund is included in the city’s contract with its biggest union, however, it must be renegotiated rather than rescinded by popular vote, lawyers have said. Feinstein had been exploring compromises with union leaders, but both sides awaited Tuesday’s election results to see which position had greater voter support.

Maura Kealey, one union negotiator who opposed repeal, said Feinstein “looked like a hypocrite, favoring comparable worth but unwilling to pay for it.”

In Los Angeles County, a ballot measure in Compton asking whether its $7,200-a-year part-time mayor should be made full-time at an annual salary of $73,452 lost, along with a second proposal asking whether current Mayor Walter R. Tucker, a dentist, should be allowed to assume the full-time post.


Tucker said the salary increase measure, which would have made him the third highest paid mayor in the state, after San Francisco’s and Los Angeles’, failed because it “scares the hell out of the ordinary person.”

Not Much Money

“That’s not all that much money. I just couldn’t take that job for $30,000 or $40,000. I’ve got two kids in college,” Tucker said.

He said he will continue as part-time mayor.

A Pasadena measure that city officials said would save taxpayers $400,000 a year by transferring some of the city prosecutor’s duties to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office lost. County officials said before the election that the transfer would actually cost Pasadena voters almost $100,000 more each year.

In neighboring San Marino, voters turned down a special property tax measure to raise $700,000 in special property taxes that the school board contended was needed for four years to avoid cutbacks in school programs and to pay for building maintenance.

Also contributing to election coverage were Mary Barber, Grace Castillo, Janet Clayton, Alma Cook, Ralph Frammolino, Deborah Hastings, John Kissell, Pamela Moreland, Dean Murphy, Willian Nottingham, Ruth L. Peeples, Bob Pool, Herbert A. Sample, Richard Simon, Mark Stein and Jill Stewart.

Election results on pages 18-19.