Q: Is it true the height limit extension won’t be on the 2018 ballot?
A: Yes. A Charter Amendment voted in November, 2017 states that the Council must place it on the ballot for the next “General Election,” which would be 2020. (Measure P is in force until end of December, 2020.)
Q: What happened at the last City Council meeting regarding this subject?
A: The City Attorney presented the Council with numerous options, and the Council chose to do the following, per the staff report:
Place the SMRG Initiative on the November 2020 ballot - Required Actions:
a. No action regarding the SMRG Initiative is required at this time.
b. Direct the City Attorney to work with SMRG to develop a Settlement Agreement under which SMRG would agree to remove the SMRG Initiative from the November 2020 ballot and the City would agree to put an identical proposition on the November 2020 ballot thus curing any potential deficiencies in the SMRG petitions and avoiding litigation. The Agreement would address changes to the November 2020 ballot measure to address in-lieu fees and the term of the measure. The Settlement Agreement would also indicate that the City may place a second proposition on the ballot in 2020 reflecting community input within the General Plan Update that would modify some heights and densities, particularly near rail stations.
c. If agreement cannot be reached, direct the City Attorney to seek a judicial determination as to whether the initiative measure petition satisfies the requirements of state law.
Q: Why is the height limit extension group (San Mateans for Responsive Government/SMRG) now negotiating with the Council to have this measure become a ‘city-sponsored measure’ instead of a Citizen’s Measure?
A: You may have read that attorneys representing Bohannon Development questioned the language of the measure - the same language used for this measure in 1991 and 2004. Although SMRG’s attorney feels the measure is sound, having the City sponsor it will alleviate the purported language issue (which could result in litigation), and give the measure a fair chance. The threat of litigation is a common political tactic to discourage citizen action. SMRG is hopeful that all councilmembers will negotiate in good faith in support of the thousands of petition signers, and the thousands of residents beyond those signers who also expect the same.
Q: What else should I know?
A: Much credit is given to Councilmembers Freschet and Rodriguez for championing that the people deserve to have a Settlement Agreement which places the Measure P extension on the 2020 ballot by the end of the year, rather than enduring a two year wait – which Mayor Bonilla requested. The City Manager and City Attorney gave strong support to have that agreement written and signed now, and are working up the terms for review likely before the end of August. Regular updates are posted at www.smartergrowthsm.com.