Guest Column: November’s Election

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David Lima

This November’s election will be hugely important for Gilroy and for the nation as a whole. Not only will it be a test of our presidential election system, but it will be an opportunity for Gilroy residents to vote for a mayor and three council members of their choice. Mayor Woodward, Cat Tucker, Teri Aulman and Daniel Harney all finish their terms at that time. This is an exciting moment in the history of our democracy. I hope that Gilroy residents will register to vote if they haven’t already, and that all registered voters express their wishes at the polls.
Another opportunity is available to Gilroy voters, if we choose to take it. That is the chance to vote on the Gilroy Urban Growth Boundary Initiative in November. The opportunity is only available to us if enough people sign the petition to get it on the ballot. Gilroy Growing Smarter will be circulating petitions starting on Saturday, March 19 at the Gilroy Library and other locations. Signing the petition simply means that you want to have the choice on the November ballot.
We should all be in favor of having that choice.
People have heard confusing and contradictory things about this petition. It is part of the legal process for placing a ballot initiative before the voters. People create an initiative because they feel that a new law is needed in their community. The process of making the new law includes making sure that enough people care enough to place it on the ballot. That is what the petition is for—to prove that enough people in Gilroy want the chance to vote on the measure. If we can prove that, then the people get to vote on the proposed law.
The proposed law, the Gilroy Urban Growth Boundary Initiative, would draw a line on the general plan’s Land Use Map that would mark the limit to Gilroy’s growth without further approval from the voters. The line encompasses plenty of land for housing and job needs until 2040 at historical growth rates. Development outside the line would be allowed for certain exceptional needs, or would require the voters to approve any other kind of development. Inside the line, development would proceed according to all existing rules and methods. The purpose of the initiative is to focus development in a compact area rather than allowing housing sprawl to eat up open space.
People who support the proposed law believe it has many benefits for Gilroy. People who oppose the law think it takes power away from the City Council and makes development difficult. The voters need to understand the issue and decide on it in November.
The City Council approved spending money for an impartial expert analysis of the impact of the proposed initiative on Gilroy. This report will be available to help voters decide how to vote in November. But we only get the chance to vote on the issue if enough people sign the petition first. To find out when and where you can sign the petition, please visit gilroygrowingsmarter.org.
The bottom line is this: If you want the chance to vote on the issue, sign the petition.
David Lima is secretary of Gilroy Growing Smarter. He wrote this for the Dispatch.

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