By Mary Andersen
The hotly debated Measure D Greenway Initiative sits at 8580 “yes” votes and 21,021 “no” this morning. Votes will continue to be counted throughout the week with a final certification in early July. But these early results bode well for Roaring Camp Railroads and CEO Melani Clark who initiated the building of a geographically and politically broad coalition in opposition to the measure. For most up here in the mountains, this was an easy call. The threat to Roaring Camp – long a good neighbor, catalyst of economic growth, and provider of jobs – resonated with locals. While the complexity of the issue provided an opportunity for oversimplification of talking points, particularly regarding impact to Roaring Camp and to rail transportation going forward, voters cut through the mud and voted accordingly.
The Greenway Initiative called for amendments to the county’s General Plan to promote trail-only focused planning and remove language for passenger rail service. The changes would have included railbanking – removing the tracks and hindering county-wide rail options going forward.
The establishment political set – which almost universally opposed the measure – celebrates now, but backers of the Greenway Initiative have built their own coalition. They wield a certain amount of influence at least through 2024, including on the Board of Supervisors, and they boast that they have control of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission, the politicization of which is its own story.
Takeaways: Coalition building works when stakeholders are authentically involved. And it’s time now for San Lorenzo Valley voters to take a hard look at 2024.