Wednesday, April 08, 2009

nice tree in the middle of the road.

By my reckoning, the residents of the "Union Ranch" development voted 178 NO and 38 YES, thus approving the special tax to pay for the trees in the street. (I observed the back room counting at last night's city council meeting.)

You read that right. The large majority of residents voted NO. Yet it was approved. Why? The answer is that one person had the power of 1,018 votes because he was much wealthier than anyone else. You see, in the formation of special districts, one man doesn't have one vote. Under edicts of the People's Republic of California the number of votes you have is determined by the value of the property you own.

The "rationale," if you want to call it that, is that the rich man pays more in taxes, so he should have more say. And, in fact, the tax is based on the value of the property. But it still seems downright un-American. And it is, especially the way these districts usually work in the real world of land development.

It was only because of a bureaucratic snafu that the election made news with residents attending the council meeting complaining. Normally, the way the city likes to do things is that they hold the "vote" before a single house is sold. That way, all the parcels are owned by one person (the developer) who votes yes and it's recorded at "100 percent in favor of the special tax" for that area.

Then, we are told, people moving in are "fully disclosed" about the fact that the developer voted for a new tax that you, the new home owner, are obligated to pay. I don't know why I didn't think of this convenience sooner, I think I'll ask the local rich guy to vote for me all the time and save me the trouble of actually deciding anything.

We didn't even get into the issue of how the developer is "forced" to cast his single powerful vote under threat by the city. They usually include language in the "development agreement" that lets them revoke or deny building permits unless the developer exercises his free will in this free and fair election and votes the correct way.

Welcome to democracy California style.

By the way, there's a story on this issue in the state run news service. Also I've visited Union Ranch and it looks like Disneyland on acid or the planet that shot spores at Spock and turned him emotional.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to mention my vote "reckonings" are my estimates. They are probably within a vote or two but may not be exact. I was an "observer" not a "counter."