VENTURA, Calif. - At first glance, both Measure C and Measure F read almost the same, but in reality they are competing measures and the way you vote on them will have a dramatic impact on how Ventura County will look a few decades from now.
The fate of Ventura County's open space and agriculture will be up to the voters in November, thanks to the two competing measures on the ballot.
A vote for Measure C would continue the current SOAR program through 2050. SOAR stands for "Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources." It's a program that has been in effect for the last two decades.
"It basically protects open space by ensuring that citizens have the right to vote before the land zoned open space and agriculture can be re-zoned for development," said First County District Supervisor for Ventura County Steve Bennet.
"So it's been very effective for keeping the quality of life here for Ventura County, but also keeping farming viable and keeping the agricultural business viable at the same time. There have been 11 SOAR votes and six of them have passed, when the public said it wasn't the right project, at the right place at the right time," said Brian Brennan, a SOAR board member.
You may think farmers would support a group that's named SOAR for "Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources," but in reality the majority of farmers oppose SOAR and instead support Measure F, nicknamed "Support VC." Farmers have been outspoken about the measures at recent Ventura County Board of Supervisors meetings.
"The SOAR renewal initiative does not address the economics of multilayer Ventura County agriculture. These lush and aesthetically pleasing agricultural view sheds that SOAR touts as a selling point are only possible if our farms and ranches remain profitable. I urge the board without further delay to place the Sustain VC initiative on the ballot," said Ventura farmer Jonathan Pinkerton.
Farmers say Measure F saves farmers, the reason being it gives farmers an opportunity to decide for themselves what to do with their land after 2036, instead of forcing them to wait for the voters to decide if their land can be used for something other than open space or agriculture.
"I'm actually representing my grandchildren because 2050 means my 10-year-old granddaughter would never be able to do anything with my farm other than what we are doing right now. Farming is a fluid business, it changes daily. Eight years ago, I would not be able to tell you I am growing blueberries but I am, so 10 years from now i couldn't be able to tell you what I would be growing. So if you could please pass this and put this on the ballot so my grandchildren will be able to farm in this county I would appreciate it. Thank you," said Ventura County farmer Patty Waters.
Supporters of Measure C say the people who support Measure F do so because they can profit if they get agricultural land rezoned for development.
"Measure F has loophole in it that allow for thousands of acres of land to be rezoned for development, without a vote of the people. It is their clever strategy to try to defeat SOAR," said Bennet.
For more information, check out each group's Facebook page:
Ray Rice a supporter of SOAR, created this video to help explain SOAR VC's message: https://vimeo.com/177771812