Lake Elsinore ‘Measure A’ loses at polls by nearly 90 percent

Voters in Lake Elsinore easily defeated Measure A, otherwise known as the Alberhill Ranch Initiative, during a May 2 special election. The measure could have bankrupted the city if voters had chosen to approve it, according to city officials.

The most recent tally shows 3,354 “no” votes were cast, as compared to only 418 voting in favor of the measure which could have cost the city more than $240 million and brought with it the construction of more than 8,000 homes and an additional 27,000 residents upon its buildout in 30 years.

The initiative was promoted by the developers, Castle & Cooke of Westlake Village and their attorney, who objected to specific plan conditions adopted by the city of Lake Elsinore in early 2016. The conditions imposed on the developer by the city would be the cost of building a 45.9-acre sports park and ongoing upkeep and care estimated at $27 million. It conditioned the developer to share the expenses of police, fire and paramedic services with the city as the project grew. The developer would also need to provide more open space and trails that would take away 300 planned homes in the project as estimated by the developer and require a traffic impact analysis.

The developer set out to form a community outreach group which solicited 5,000 signatures for the initiative petition, approved by the county Registrar of Voters, enough to get it on a ballot. The council opted to place the issue before voters and hold a special election at an estimated cost of approximately $130,000.

While the two parties had long been at odds over the Alberhill Villages specific plan, they came to an agreement in February. Under the new agreement, the city could see total gains of about $55.5 million and have secured funding for the developments proposed regional sports park verses the loss of more than $240 million under the plan before voters.

The new amendments keep much of the Alberhill plan the same except for removing the smaller of two lakes and clarifying some language. Upon buildout, the development will boast 8,024 residential units, approximately 3.8 million square feet of nonresidential uses, provides a 63.6-acre site for a university or a similar use, an elementary school site and over 194 acres of natural space with multi-use trails. It also allows for interim mining use operations that will be phased out over time as development occurs.

The problem at that point became how to defeat the measure in the special election, which was too far along in the process to stop. If the measure had passed, it would have negated the amended agreement for the Alberhill Villages specific plan between both the city of Lake Elsinore and Alberhill Villages developer Castle & Cooke, which would have proved disastrous for the city, according to assistant city manager Jason Simpson, who said there would have been no way the city could have funded the measure.

“The impact, there was 8,000 residential units planned, and should they be built they wouldn’t pay their fair share of the increased impact on police and fire,” Simpson explained during a presentation given before the Lake Elsinore Citizens Committee Wednesday, March 8. “We negotiated that, and they are going to be paying their full impact under the new plan.”

Since the initiative was too far along in the election process, proponents and opponents pooled their resources and encouraged residents to vote no on Measure A, a plan that appears to have worked given the most recent poll numbers.

Karie Reuther, community liaison for Live Lake Elsinore, said she wanted to thank the voters of Lake Elsinore.

“Yesterday’s election results show clearly that voters want to preserve and protect the city’s amended & restated Alberhill Villages specific plan,” Reuther said. “The adopted AVSP and defeat of Measure A has created a win-win-win for the citizens of Lake Elsinore, the city and the landowner. Thank you to all who came together to help support Alberhill Villages.”

For Reuther, the goal is to move forward and to work toward the city of Lake Elsinore’s continued growth.

“With the election now behind us, we look forward to working on next steps and continuing to work with the city and the Lake Elsinore community to promote economic development opportunities in Lake Elsinore,” she said.

According to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters, approximately 60 ballots remain to be counted as well as ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than Friday, May 5 also remain to be counted.

The next updated results will be posted upon certification of the election May 11. Election results are not final until the vote has been certified by the California Secretary of State’s office.

The Riverside County Registrar’s office can be found online at www.voteinfo.net.

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