Backers of ballot measure say supervisor worked with building industry to reword initiative

Jim Desmond was lobbied to change language of Measure A, emails and texts show.

Backers of ballot measure say supervisor worked with building industry to reword initiative

Backers of Measure A, the Save Our San Diego Countryside initiative that will be voted on in March, say a series of texts and emails obtained as part of a public records request show that Supervisor Jim Desmond was working with the building industry when he tried to change the ballot language at the last minute.

Measure A would require countywide votes for big developments in the unincorporated parts of the county that are not now zoned for them, something the building industry says would likely put an end to such projects.

On Dec. 10, the Board of Supervisors had been scheduled to consider changing the ballot language of the measure just one day before the Registrar of Voters deadline. Desmond had placed the item on the agenda saying a change was needed to better inform voters. He also told at least two people that the language change was written by his staff.

But texts and emails show that it was representatives with the Building Industry Association of San Diego County who approached Desmond, and lawyers for the No on A campaign, which is funded by the building and real estate industry, who not only asked for the item to be put on the agenda, but also crafted the wording which was very similar to what Desmond ended up proposing.

In the end, the item was withdrawn after County Counsel decided that the law surrounding when ballot questions can be changed had been misinterpreted and the deadline had already passed.

Nevertheless, backers of the SOS measure say what transpired in the days before the supervisor’s meeting was an example of how developers hold too much sway over politicians and why the SOS measure is needed.

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