What is Measure F?
Ventura County residents currently have many protections against urban sprawl including the right of the people to vote on urban development outside each city’s adopted growth boundary. But the question is whether we can sustain agriculture in our county as it faces unprecedented challenges going forward.
Measure F starts from a simple idea. If you want to stop sprawl and protect agricultural land and open space in Ventura County, then agriculture must be economically viable.
Through Measure F, we “Stop Sprawl with Sustainable Agriculture”
If approved by voters, Measure F will maintain the public vote for urban sprawl while strengthening policies necessary to sustain agriculture over a 20 year period. Expiring in 2036, Measure F has a reasonable time horizon similar to the original countywide Measure C. But Measure F goes further than Measure C by:
- Not only stopping sprawl, but protecting agricultural land and ensuring that agriculture stays economically viable
- Promoting water infrastructure and sustainable sources of water for local agriculture
- Allowing 225 acres of agricultural food processing, reducing the amount of local produce being trucked out of the county, creating and keeping thousands of local agriculture jobs
- Improving safety at urban public schools by permitting options for adjacent farmland to avoid conflicts while keeping the land in compatible county uses. Urban development such as housing tracts and retail centers would need a public vote.
- Requiring an economic study of impacts from the measure on middle class housing and rent affordability, job growth and traffic due to commuting outside Ventura County.
Measure F is important because agricultural lands comprise over 200,000 acres or 18% of total County lands. Our initiative was written by local farmers who want to keep farming in this county and continue the legacy of their families for future generations.
Measure F also has strong protections for open space. In fact, the goals in Measure F with respect to open space are exactly the same as SOAR 2050. While over half of the County open-space lands are protected in perpetuity (624,000 acres), there are another 20% (230,000 acres) of private open-space lands that are subject to these strict goals of non-urbanization in addition to the public vote for development.
Measure F Goals and Policies:
Measure F provides clear goals and policies that promote the longevity of local agriculture and strengthen this sector of our economy:
- Actively promote water infrastructure projects so local farms will have a sustainable source of water to irrigate their fields;
- Facilitate a broad range of agricultural support services in agricultural areas;
- Develop agricultural permit procedures that are rapid and efficient;
- Encourage farmworker housing near farms and fields to reduce commuting and abate the critical lack of workforce housing;
- Encourage scientific and educational research facilities that focus on local agriculture and natural resources to be located in Ventura County;
- Develop incentives for farmers to maintain land in productive agricultural uses.
Measure F Allowances and Provisions:
AGRICULTURAL PROCESSING FACILITIES
Measure F allows 225 acres of agricultural facilities for packing and processing of local foods. Most of this processing will likely take place within existing packing and pre-processing facilities in the County.
The acreage amount was recommended by a technical consultant team through a study commissioned by Bruce Stenslie of the Economic Development Cooperative of Ventura County. The study revealed that only 223 acres of land for food processing would produce a $1.3 billion total expansion of the Ventura County economy and create 2640 jobs.
Consumers these days are demanding ready to eat produce that is cut, washed, juiced, blended, mixed, fermented, cooked and bagged or bottled. To meet these demands, most of our local produce is being trucked out of the County for such processing. The Measure F provision will create jobs, reduce truck traffic on our highways and provide local produce that our community desires.
SAFE SCHOOLS PROVISION
The State of California has built primary and secondary schools within city boundaries that encroach onto county farmland. Due to increasing complaints about noise, dust and pest control, local county farmers are being forced to consider fallowing their land adjacent to schools. Fallow, barren land will trigger votes to allow urban development on these lands.
Measure F improves the safety of school kids and reduces the conflicts for farmers where farmland is adjacent to certain public primary and secondary schools by permitting options for that adjacent farmland while keeping that land in compatible public uses. And large developments such as housing tracts and retail centers could not be developed without a public vote.
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ECONOMIC IMPACTS
Measure F requires an economic study of impacts from the measure on middle class housing and rent affordability, job growth and traffic due to commuting outside Ventura County by 2026.
The current land use restrictions, which would continue for decades under Measure C, have resulted in at least three major farms in Ventura County closing in just the several months. Farms cannot be economically viable without tools to improve water infrastructure, processing and a stronger local workforce which Measure F would provide for.
Economist Mark Schniepp raised questions about the impact of Measure C on the Ventura County economy in the California Economic Outlook conference on 2-5-16. Ventura County job growth is dead last among comparable south coast counties. Local companies continue to downsize and defect from Ventura County. Overcrowding in our cities is highest of coastal counties. And traffic has continued to increase in spite of Measure C and the lack of building in the county.
Schniepp attributes the continued increase of traffic to the lack of local jobs, causing more out of town commuting to Santa Barbara, the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita and Los Angeles. Measure F requires an economic study to determine the impact of the urban growth boundaries to inform voters before the sunset date of our initiative in 2036.
- Endorse Measure F
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