Re "Yes on Measure A," Ventura County Editorials, May 16.
In order for Measure A to pass, ignorance of the masses would be required. Many proponents of redevelopment admit they have not read the plan. This, I suppose, is why they call it a no-brainer.
This is also why voters must learn how redevelopment works. Please read the plan! And vote accordingly, no on Measure A.
Redevelopment is a very real threat to our property rights, our freedom to pursue our livelihood and to enjoy Ventura's unique character, before we become just another strip-malled suburb like all the others creeping up from Los Angeles.
I am still amazed that there remain some misguided souls who believe this is a clean-up, fix-up plan, who believe the vague, fabricated benefits and empty, unsubstantiated promises parroted by Measure A proponents. Nowhere in the plan is a clean-up, fix-up face lift format illustrated. It does tell us it wants to modernize everything, which negates the historical preservation promise!
If you read the plan you will see the plan is not voluntary. It wouldn't be redevelopment if it were. Here's how it works:
The supposed revenue generated by redevelopment is tax increment money. This happens when property is reassessed because of sale or new construction on the property. The redevelopment agency receives tax increment money when it forces property to change ownership. This cheats owners out of Proposition 13 tax benefits when they are forced out.
If any form of eminent domain is not employed, the city's only source of this tax increment is through new construction.
How it works now: Dozens of properties and parcels in the plan are fraudulently labeled "blighted" due to their size and other false conditions. The redevelopment agency consolidates these small parcels for larger development. The plan allows for "the reduction of total number of individual parcels in the project area. The agency is authorized to demolish and clear buildings, structures and improvements necessary to carry out the purposes of the plan and eliminate small shallow depth parcels" and "to demolish all buildings of substandard design, small stand-alone buildings not large enough for new commercial uses, small lots lacking sufficient parking. . . . The plan will consolidate parcels to facilitate new development, purchase property to construct new lots. . . . Agency will acquire properties and assemble them with other adjoining parcels to create sites for new development."
What's the consensus among Midtown merchants and customers coming into my store? Answer to a simple query: Whaddya think about redevelopment? Most reply with something like: "Oh, Pu-leeze! They want to build up Ventura? I like it fine just the way it is."
Councilman Sandy Smith deserves credit for admitting, in a recent City Council meeting, that the redevelopment plan is wanted for the city to see revenue from the mall. He also admits the plan's purpose is to help Ventura do some catching up, as it apparently is a little behind neighboring cities in growth. He admits to wanting redevelopment to bring in chain stores and big-box corporate retail outlets.
Some ask, "Who can oppose Ventura moving forward?" Well, if you call this moving forward, I can oppose it! Besides, I see this as more like moving backward. We must fight the redevelopment mentality. Many people have moved here from the San Fernando Valley, Thousand Oaks, etc. to get away from redevelopment-sprawl. How could we support a plan based on the idea that there are too many small businesses in Midtown? Why would we vote for a plan that would destroy Ventura's unique character and safe, secure, small-town feel?
As responsible voters, we all must now read the truth, learn what's in the plan and think for ourselves. Join the "oral majority" which is standing up and telling politicians, developers and consultants: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore. No Big Brother government is going to tell me how to run my life or business!"
Just say no to Measure A.
ALLEN ST. JAMES, Ventura
Re "A Powerful Tool and a Source of Heated Debate," Ventura County Perspective, May 23.
It was good to get this lesson on Redevelopment 101 from Peter Detwiler. Even though the article was couched in educational terms it still served as a public relations tool for these insidious rogue agencies. The only thing on which I can agree with Mr. Detwiler is that the system of government financing needs a major overhaul from the top down, and tweaking here and there makes it worse.