In the News

Election 2012: Voting to vote on desalination; measure asks citizens to change city's charter

By J.M. Brown
Santa Cruz Sentinel, 10/21/12

SANTA CRUZ -- Opponents of the city's proposal to pursue a desalination plant have placed a measure on the ballot that would change the city's charter to require a future vote of the people before the facility could be built.

Measure P asks voters if they want to have a say on the plant, which is estimated to cost $123 million to plan and build. The plant would be shared with the Soquel Creek Water District.

The City Council voted earlier this year to put the question of desalination before voters in June 2014 or after, but critics said they were concerned a future council could overturn the decision. Measure P, if passed, would also bar the city from going into bonded indebtedness to pay for the project without a future vote.

"What I'm really hoping is the ballot measure in November that would give voters the right to decide about desalination, that it will inspire the City Council to look into alternatives because there is a very distinct chance voters are going to reject desalination," said Rick Longinotti, a founder of Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives.

An argument in favor of Measure P was signed by Longinotti, as well as Mike Guth, chairman of the Santa Cruz County group of the Sierra Club; Dustin Macdonald, chairman of the Santa Cruz chapter of the Surfrider Foundation; and former Mayor Celia Scott.

Opponents of Measure P, which is estimated to cost the city $70,000, include former Mayor Mike Rotkin, county Supervisor Neal Coonerty and Gine Johnson, former executive director of the environmental nonprofit group Ecology Action.

"This is a wasteful ballot measure asking you to vote on whether you want to vote," their rebuttal argument reads. "The city has implemented a highly successful conservation program and continues to aggressively pursue additional alternatives."


Asks voters to decide whether they want to change the city's charter to guarantee them the right to a future vote on desalination. It requires a simple majority to pass.


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