90 destroys everything that makes California a decent place to live.
Over at the California Coastal Commission, executive director Peter Douglas frets that his agency will no longer be able to carry out its mandate to protect the coast.
"Every decision the Coastal Commission makes where we approve projects but impose conditions to protect neighborhoods and communities will be subject to claims," Douglas says.
"Sensitive environments like the San Francisco Bay and Lake Tahoe will be exposed, along with residential neighborhoods, ag lands, and public parklands. And it will erode the state's ability to protect against new offshore oil drilling, new liquid natural gas terminals, harmful ocean energy projects like offshore wind turbines and wave energy machines and make it impossible to set aside essential marine reserves to restore marine life and fisheries."
Members of the California Chamber of Commerce oppose Prop. 90 because it will make it more complicated and costly to build new infrastructure like freeway lanes, sewer lines, levees, and utility sites.
President Allan Zaremberg observes, "At a time when California is trying to finally address the huge backlog of needed roads, schools, and flood protection–water delivery systems, the massive new costs of Prop. 90 would destroy our efforts to improve infrastructure."
Among government agencies the outlook is equally bleak. Unlike Oregon's Measure 37, which passed in 2004 and has already led to over $5 billion in claims, Prop. 90 isn't limited to private land but extends to private economic interests. This wide-ranging scope means that it'll be almost impossible for government to regulate business without facing claims of "substantial economic loss," making it prohibitive to protect consumers, establish mandatory health care coverage, or raise minimum wages.
San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera told the Guardian, "If Prop. 90 passes, we might as well get out of the business of local government."
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Asked what California would look like if Prop. 90 had been law for a decade, Gary Patton, executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, paints a sprawl-filled picture.
"All the project proposals that weren't built would have been, open space and parks wouldn't have been preserved, almost every public works project would have been affected, and things wouldn't have been constructed, because there would have been no money because the cost of everything would have gone up."
Currently, the cost of a piece of land is valued by the market. Under Prop. 90 land would be valued by what it might be used for.
"For instance, a piece of land alongside a highway could one day be developed into a subdivision," Patton explains. "So that's the price it would have to be bought at. So unless taxes are raised, Prop. 90's passage would mean that California would be able to do less. Traffic would be worse. The affordable housing crisis would intensify. Fewer swimming pools and civic centers would be built. Everything that's done through spending dollars collectively would cost more."
Within the Bay Area individual communities have chosen to adopt urban growth boundaries, but if Prop. 90 was already in place, Patton says, many environmental and community protection projects wouldn't have happened.
"Where now we have more focused growth, which is economically and socially as well as environmentally beneficial, there'd be lots more sprawl," Patton explains. "We'd be a lot more like Fresno and Bakersfield and San Bernardino and Los Angeles. The Bay Area is a place where more people have got together and made sure their communities did things that have been beneficial."
As for restoring Golden Gate's Crissy Field or the South Bay Salt Ponds or preserving bird and wildlife sanctuaries, forget about it.
"We'd be more like Houston. Prop.