Mailer Questions I and J

The brochure that began arriving in Ventura voters’ mailboxes this weekend is one in a series opposing Measures I and J on Tuesday’s ballot. The mailer was sponsored by Farmers, Families and Friends Against Irresponsible Regulation.

* THE AD: The colorful brochure features a cartoon octopus, stretching from City Hall to ensnare everything in its reach, from homes to businesses, to even a hapless couple sunning on the beach. “Government always seems to get bigger,” the mailer says. “Measures I & J will continue the trend in Ventura.” It goes on to decry I and J as “a huge regulatory scheme unparalleled in California.” The initiatives, the mailer says, “are designed to put City Hall in charge of private property rights.” Further, it states, “Some estimate that the Measure I & J bureaucracy will be larger than Ventura’s police department.” Another portion of the ad repeats an earlier, incorrect claim in another mailer that “Ventura has more violent crime than Oxnard.”

* THE ANALYSIS: Although the ad portrays Measures I and J as a power grab by City Hall, the measures actually limit the power of the City Council. In most instances, farmland could be developed only with voter approval. The claim that “some” believe the Measure I & J bureaucracy would be bigger than the Ventura Police Department is not attributed, nor is there any supporting evidence. Because the measures retain current zoning restrictions, its proponents argue that no additional city employees would be needed to carry out the law. It is possible, however, that the city will have to pay to defend the measures in court, since opponents say they will challenge the measures if they are passed. However, proponents point out that Measure I is patterned after a Napa County measure that was upheld by the California Supreme Court this spring. The brochure also makes an attempt to tie the measures to voter concern about crime. In doing so, the brochure repeats the assertion that Ventura has twice the violent crime as Oxnard. In fact, the most recent crime statistics show that Oxnard has twice the rate of violent crime--murder, rape, robbery and felony assaults--as does the city of Ventura.