Public safety unions oppose Measure X

Police, firefighters and lifeguards back general plan and candidates who support it.

September 29, 2006|By Alicia Robinson

Newport Beach's police and firefighter associations have announced they're supporting Measure V, the city's general plan update, and opposing Measure X, an expansion of the slow-growth Greenlight law passed in 2000.

The police and firefighter unions opposed the first Greenlight initiative, but this time they have a new ally: the city lifeguards association.

The original Greenlight law required a public vote on projects that would add more than 100 homes, 100 peak-hour car trips or 40,000 square feet of building space to what the city's general plan allowed. Measure X, also called Greenlight II, would extend those provisions to existing development — for example, a development of 101 homes would be subject to voter approval.


The city's public safety unions now say, as they said in 2000, that requiring voter approval will discourage development and stunt an important source of funding for their services.

"We've got a high level of public service in the city and Greenlight II has the potential to derail it," said Brent Jacobsen, president of the Newport Beach Lifeguards Management Assn.

"If Greenlight II passes, you're in a situation where you're relying more and more on property taxes," he said.

The general plan update, the first major revision in years to the city's blueprint for development, will improve Newport Beach's infrastructure and traffic flow, he said.

The plan also specifically mentions a goal of maintaining or increasing public safety standards, said Jeff Boyles, president of the Newport Beach Firefighters Assn.

The public safety groups also endorsed City Council candidates who support the general plan update and oppose the Greenlight measure, and Newport Beach Fire Chief Tim Riley signed the ballot argument against Measure X.

This is the first time the lifeguards union has taken positions on candidates and issues.

Measure X proponent Phil Arst said he wasn't surprised by the announcement. Police, fire and lifeguard personnel are professionals who will do their jobs regardless of the election's outcome, Arst said, but they have "always preferred the business candidates, and we're used to that."

The added traffic and high-rise buildings Arst expects to see if Measure X fails will make police and firefighters' jobs tougher, he said.

Arst isn't wringing his hands over failing to get backing from the city's public safety employees. He said Greenlight supporters aren't seeking high-profile endorsements from politicians either.

"We're a bunch of individuals with a common desire to have a high quality of life," he said. "We're seeking votes from he people that have to live here."


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