Vote no on Measure Q

October 22, 2010 — by Falcon Editorial Board

Take a walk through the Saratoga village any day of the week and you’ll find an assortment of over-priced restaurants, empty sidewalks, vacant storefronts and the occasional straggler. When compared to the bustling downtown of nearby Los Gatos, the Village is indeed a ghost town.

If Measure Q passes, Saratoga voters will ensure it stays this way.

On the November ballot, Measure Q aims to restrict commercial buildings to two stories. Backers say that the restriction will help preserve the character of the quiet town, but what good is character when all the businesses leave?

The measure itself is poorly designed. Currently, the town allows structures to be built to heights of 26, 30 and 35 feet, depending on the zoning district. Measure Q says nothing about the height. It only limits the number of stories of commercial buildings. If passed, such a restriction would hold for 30 years. Developers seeking to build over two stories would have to hold it to a citywide vote—a costly and frivolous requirement that would drive away potential businesses.

The truth is, the city cannot afford to drive away such business investments. City sales tax receipts are already down an enormous 17 percent since 2007. Measure Q will only accelerate that decline.

While maintaining the city’s character is certainly important, Saratoga already has an extensive review process to ensure new developments adhere to it. Any development already goes through public notice, community planning and public hearings before the planning commission and city council. If Measure Q passes, it will require final decisions to build above the two-story height limit to go through costly citywide votes, bypassing the city’s planning commission and city council.

Lastly, voters do not know what they are getting into. There has been no long-term study of Measure Q’s possible impact regarding the economic implications of such a far-reaching proposal. What will surely be marketed by local spinsters as merely a good-hearted attempt to preserve the quaint aura of our town has the potential to instead bring about markedly dramatic change and drive away future potential for growth.

Clearly, the voters of Saratoga are faced with an enormous decision Nov. 2. This board strongly recommends a vote against Measure Q.

The Falcon voted 37-0 in opposition of Measure Q.

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