The battle between backers of two competing growth-management measures in Vista escalated Wednesday when one side accused a real estate agent of peddling misinformation in a letter urging property owners to vote down Proposition B, the more restrictive of the two proposals.
The author of Proposition B, Geoffrey C. Baker, also called on the California State Department of Real Estate to revoke the license of Read Miller, claiming that Miller violated the national Board of Realtors' code of ethics.
Last week, Miller sent letters to property owners and clients in which he claimed the upcoming April 28 election will have "a very significant impact" on their ability to develop or sell their property.
Writing "as a property owner," on his real estate company's stationery, Miller urged people to read the two proposals, get involved and donate money for Proposition A.
Vistans will choose between Proposition B or Proposition A, a more lenient growth-management alternative placed on the ballot by a unanimous City Council vote.
In his letter, Miller, who stated he does not favor either proposition, claimed that Proposition B is "far worse" than Proposition A because it deviates from the city's general plan, is likely to involve litigation, and puts the decision-making process in the hands of non-elected people.
Baker and other backers of Proposition B say Miller's assertions overlook the city's non-elected planning commissioners, who regularly make decisions on land-use issues. Miller's approach, Baker said, violate the Board of Realtor's ethics code.
"He is telling a lie," Baker said. "Even my 5-year-old understands truth and lying. I don't understand why a businessman can't behave as well as a 5-year-old."
Baker was joined at a Wednesday morning press conference by Mary Chapman, chairman of the Vista Planning Commission, who said the Baker initiative was the better of the two. She claimed that Miller and others who are working against Proposition B live outside Vista.
"Their interest is in making money," Chapman said.
Miller was out of town on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. Bob Scanlon, Miller's boss and general manager of Ambassador Realty in Vista, said he knew of the letters Miller prepared on the company's computer and had no problem with them.
"In my opinion, Mr. Miller is an owner of property, has written a letter to other owners of property, giving his opinion," Scanlon said. "(Miller) is a most honorable man. I've never known him to lie. I don't have the slightest bit of discomfort with anything he does."
On Wednesday, officials at the state Real Estate Department had not received Baker's letter, mailed Tuesday, asking them to investigate Miller and lift his license. They would not speculate whether Miller had violated any business codes.
Vista is the third North County city in less than a year to choose between a slow-growth measure and a council-backed alternative. In November, Carlsbad voters chose a council-backed growth plan over a citizen initiative.
On April 21, Oceanside voters also will choose between a citizen-backed slow-growth plan and a council-backed alternative.