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2 Rival Growth-Control Measures to Be on Poway Ballot in November

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Times Staff Writer

After a bitter debate, the Poway City Council late Tuesday decided to allow two rival growth-control measures to compete for votes on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The surprising 3-2 vote came despite Mayor Bob Emery’s urging that the council enact into law Councilwoman Linda Brannon’s “Quality of Life” proposal. Emery, whose own growth-control plan had previously been placed on the November ballot by council, supported turning Brannon’s proposal into law rather than putting it on the ballot because of its “killer clause,” which provides that the measure receiving the most votes prevail.

Because more than 2,100 Poway residents had signed Brannon’s measure, council members had to choose Tuesday to either enact the proposal before Aug. 12 or place it on the fall ballot.

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Compromise Failed

Brannon and Emery said they had met four times in hopes of working out a compromise that would incorporate features of both growth proposals but failed to reach agreement.

City Atty. Steven Eckis told council members Tuesday that, even if a compromise had been reached, state election laws forbid changing even one word of the Brannon initiative once the measure and petition signatures are submitted to the city.

In arguing for placement of her measure on the ballot, Brannon said that adoption of the initiative by the council would deprive Poway voters of “the right of choice” in selecting one of the two measures in November.

Emery, meanwhile, argued that council adoption of the Brannon-sponsored measure would accomplish what backers of the initiative wanted--enactment of a plan restricting development.

But Emery’s attempt to prevent the November competition failed when Brannon was joined by Councilmen Don Higginson and Carl Kruse in voting against immediate adoption of her initiative.

Kruse, who normally sides with Emery against Brannon, acknowledged knowing that he was the swing vote when he went to Tuesday night’s session. “But I didn’t know how I was voting,” he said.

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“I doubt if anyone in this hemisphere expected me to vote as I did,” Kruse said. “It was no single thing said during the meeting that made me vote as I did. It just seemed the fairest thing, to have both measures on the ballot.”

Emery’s measure would require a citywide vote on any increase in density in the rural residential areas of the city, which compose about 90% of the 40-square-mile municipality.

Critics call it too expensive to administer and too cumbersome. They contend that it does not address problems in the city’s urban areas or place controls on industrial developments planned for outlying areas.

Brannon’s initiative proposes selecting a citizens’ advisory committee to come up with a growth-management plan. The plan would pace growth so that development would not increase traffic congestion, overload public facilities or otherwise erode the quality of life in the North County city.

The plan, due within nine months of the passage of the initiative, would then go to a vote of Poway residents before becoming effective. It was criticized as “developer-backed” by its opponents during the council meeting, but Brannon angrily denied that, pointing to the number of Poway residents who had signed the measure and support its passage.

A third growth-control measure was proposed by Councilman Bruce Tarzy last week in an attempt to reach a compromise between the two opposing proposals.

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Tarzy’s measure was dropped when it became apparent that no compromise could be reached.

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