Let's take back control of our land use and zoning decisions

From the earliest days of California’s statehood, the local communities have had the authority to make their own decisions governing land use and zoning in their respective villages, towns, cities, and counties. And, until recently, Sacramento respected this local authority.

This respect remained intact until a group of politicians, at the behest of the large developers and other special interest organizations who have been their primary campaign donors, began prompting them to alter the laws of the state in ways that would benefit these supporters at the expense of the residents of the nearly 500 local jurisdictions such as Alameda, Oakland, San Jose, and Los Angeles. Every small and every large community in the state is being victimized by these politicians. Even our own Assemblyman, now Attorney General, and our own State Senator have been among those who have been undermining our local authority and degrading our local quality of life.

And since we here in Alameda and the residents of virtually every other jurisdiction in the state, have been unable to convince our own wayward local politicians to return control of land use and zoning decisions to us, their own constituents, it has become necessary to take back control ourselves through the initiative process.

You may recall that last year dozens of Alameda residents were circulating petitions for signatures supporting the placement of our initiative which was drafted for the purpose of reclaiming our authority to control our local land use and zoning regulations, on the 2022 state ballot. This initiative called “Our Neighborhood Voices” would have created an amendment to the California Constitution that would have returned local land use and zoning authority to Alameda and every other local jurisdiction in the state. Sacramento’s politicians would no longer to be able to run rough shod over us, the people who elected them to serve. To serve us, their constituents, and not to prioritize the wishes of their deep-pocket donors.

Unfortunately, despite the tireless work of over a thousand volunteer petition circulators working throughout the state who were able to gather several hundred thousand signatures in support of placing the initiative on the 2022 ballot, we fell short of the number required, not by much, but short none-the-less.

The good news today is that the campaign to place the initiative on the 2024 ballot remains alive and well. The continuing campaign, however, is required to start over to gather signatures for the new election cycle, and we still need to be able to submit a million or more signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in order to qualify for a place on the ballot. We need everyone’s participation, if we are to regain our authority to control Alameda’s land use and zoning policies.

You can find more details on our "OurNeighborhoodVoices.com" website. In addition, we hold informal informational and fund-raising meetings via Zoom every Wednesday evening at 6pm. You can find the link on the ONV website. And if that’s not enough, there might still be time to attend the East Bay-focused Town Hall via Zoom which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 1st. The link is on our website.

Jay Garfinkle