August 4, 2007

Costa Mesa CA now in the sights of the fire and smoke peddlers?

I suspect once the firework companies set their sights on Costa Mesa, this ballot measure would go down in flames. Way too much money involved with the smoke and fire peddlers to let another city fall by the wayside. Plus pyromaniacs are big supporters. The fireworks companies like attacking this city by city as they can out spend everyone as their profit margin is incredible for selling a product once a year.
Published Thursday, August 2, 2007 10:06 PM PDT
Two measures requested for ballot
Costa Mesa Councilwoman Linda Dixon proposes having voters decide on fireworks, hotel bed tax issues in February.

By Alicia Robinson

After several election cycles without a local measure on the ballot, Costa Mesa council members next week will consider two requests — the second and third in the last month, after a proposal to ask voters if they want to directly elect their mayor failed to make the ballot on a split City Council vote in July.

Both of the upcoming proposals came from Councilwoman Linda Dixon, and one touches on a long-contentious issue in the city: fireworks.

Dixon asked the council to let city voters decide, possibly in February, whether to ban the "safe and sane" fireworks that are now allowed in Costa Mesa, as well as four other cities in Orange County. She also suggested boosting the hotel bed tax in Costa Mesa by 2%, which is now the lowest in Orange County. Voter approval is required to raise the hotel tax.

On the fireworks issue, Dixon said, "I'm neither for nor against it. I just feel that this is something that people need to voice their opinion on."

The bed tax hike is "not a tax that is placed on residents in Costa Mesa; it's a tax that's placed on visitors in our hotels," she said. The money would go into the city's general fund, but it could be used to put on a fireworks show for the city or to set up a grant program for sports groups that now raise money through fireworks sales, Dixon said.

Costa Mesa isn't alone in eyeing the February ballot. Around Orange County, a total of four jurisdictions — one is Newport Beach — are considering ballot issues for February, and two statewide issues already have qualified.

So why the fuss about February? For one thing, it's the first time the state has had a presidential primary that might have a real impact on whittling the field of Democratic and Republican nominees, UC Irvine political science professor Mark Petracca said.

"California's in play on both sides," he said. "I think that's going to bring people to the polls."

That's one reason why former Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan pushed to get the elected mayor issue on the February ballot, he said. "I think February's going to be an incredible turnout, and the people that turn out are going to be pretty well-informed because they're turning out for a reason — to vote in the presidential primary."

Cost is another factor. It may cost a city roughly $100,000 to get an issue on the February ballot, while it's significantly more to have a separate special election and cheaper to get on the general election ballot in November.

The ballot issue in Newport Beach covers where to build city hall, so "it's good to get the issue settled sooner rather than later, but at the same time you balance it out against the costs of a stand-alone election," said Matt Cunningham, a consultant working on the Newport measure.

Dixon said she'd like to see her issues on the February ballot if they won't cost too much. Monahan said while council members are at it, they might as well throw the mayor issue on the ballot too. He doesn't plan to raise the issue again himself, but he'd like to see someone else bring it back. When Dixon's ballot proposals come up for discussion next week, "A politician that is interested in getting the [elected] mayor on [the ballot] could use that as a bargaining chip," he said.

# ALICIA ROBINSON may be reached at (714) 966-4626 or at

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | | Lakewood, CA
A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™

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