Johnny Carson hosted a TV quiz show back in the 1950's called "Who Do You Trust?" I remember watching it when I was a kid, but I don't remember many of the details. It had something to do with whether you trusted the wife or the husband to answer a question correctly. It wasn't a very good game show, but it kicked off Johnny Carson's TV career.
Measure W is San Ramon's version of "Who do you trust?" Quite simply the issue is who, if anyone, wants to build a massive housing development in Tassajara Valley and which governmental agency should you trust to keep them from doing it.
On this side of the ring is the San Ramon City Council.
Mayor Abram Wilson says, no way does he support big development in Tassajara Valley. Councilman Scott Perkins says he wants to keep Tassajara Valley rural and agricultural. Vice Mayor Carol Rowley says it can't be built out because the ridgelines will be protected by the extension of the Save Our Hills Ordinance 197, which is part of Measure W.
On the other side of the ring are the environmentalists, defrocked Planning Commissioner Phil O'Loane, and residents who don't trust the City Council.
O'Loane says there's no reason for the city to extend its Urban Growth Boundary into Tassajara Valley right now and it should not be part of the City's General Plan Update 2030, which is what voters are voting to approve in Measure W.
Seth Adams of Save Mount Diablo says developers are planning to build over 4000 homes in Tassajara Valley and once San Ramon's Urban Growth Boundary is moved eastward to Camino Ramon, which passing Measure W would do, a herd of developers greater than the Oklahoma land rush would stampede into Tassajara Valley and start building.
So the question comes back to, "Who do you trust" on how to vote for Measure W. Voting "Yes" would put control over Tassajara Valley in San Ramon, where our City Council says they would protect it from massive development. Voting "No," keeps control over planning and development in Contra Costa County, where the opponents of Measure W say it would be protected from urban development.
Both sides say their choice would protect Tassajara Valley and the other side would make development inevitable and disastrous. So if you are wondering how to vote on Measure W, ask yourself, "Who do you trust?" Is it our elected Mayor and Councilmembers, who were stuck with the County-developed Dougherty Valley while the County got the fees and we got the expenses, or County Supervisors elected by voters outside of San Ramon?
Environmentalist say Contra Costa County can't pull another Dougherty Valley this time because the County's Urban Limit Line, which excludes Tassajara Valley from urban development, was set by voters in Measure L in 2006. Measure L also requires a "four-fifths vote of the County Board of Supervisors and voter approval to expand the ULL by more than 30 acres."
But wait, there's a but, "voter approval is not required if four- fifths of the Board finds after a public hearing that there is substantial evidence in the record that the ULL expansion is necessary to avoid an unconstitutional taking of private property or is necessary to comply with state or federal law."
Measure L also provides for periodic reviews of the ULL by the Board of Supervisors and a required review in 2016 involving an evaluation of housing and job needs. The Supervisor's first periodic review of the ULL is planned for next year.
If the economy improves enough by 2016 (we wish), the state could increase the jobs/housing ratio in Contra Costa County and four of the five Supervisors could vote to change the County's Urban Limit Line without voter approval.
Could it happen? Would it happen? That's what San Ramon voters need to consider when voting for Measure W.
If you trust Contra Costa County Supervisors to protect Tassajara Valley at all costs, vote NO on Measure W.
If you trust our City government to control growth in Tassajara Valley better than the County, vote YES on Measure W.
That's the real issue about moving the Urban Growth Boundary. Who do you trust – Us or Them?