Tuesday’s special election in Cypress had only one item on the ballot. That item was Measure A. Put on the ballot by the City Council it would have allowed the developer to change over 40 acres of open space in Cypress to other zoning designations that would have permitted additional development.
Initially approved for the ballot, the Cypress City Attorney recommended the item and offered his analysis that it was a good thing for Cypress. A short time later a citizens group (CFRD) started a “No on A” effort and the developer came forward with plans to add title restrictions to “fix” the ballot measure. So much for the “good thing” that the CA analyzed and the City Counsel voted to be placed on the ballot. CFRD was mollified by the title restrictions, but a number of individual Cypress citizens weren’t.
Initially operating as a loose confederation spending their own money these individuals started making xerox flyers informing their neighbors of the facts surrounding Measure A and hand distributing them. Finally, when they had maxed out the amount that they could spend as individuals one of the individuals created an official organization so that they could raise money and with three and a half weeks left before the vote, work as a team to inform the community.
By empowering each person to do what they can to stop Measure A Cypress residents were able to see a grassroots organization start with individuals handing out xerox flyers and posting home made yard signs slowly form into a group called Cypress Citizens Preserving Open Space.
While all this was going on the developer was bombarding Cypress residents with full color mailers arriving two to three times a week. These mailing would promise “more parks” while the actual measure would take acres of open space and change the zoning so that they couldn’t be used for parks (as they were currently zoned). According to the Orange County Register the developer had, prior to election day, spent in excess of $600,000. The residents a fraction of that. According to a number of residents they had received up to 15 full color mailers from the developer promising everything but, as one resident said, “rainbows and unicorns”.
On Tuesday June 25th, 2013 David (the residents) met Goliath (the developer, the Cypress City Council, the Cypress City Attorney and Cypress City Manager) at the polls. Before the polls had opened 18.1% of the Registered Voters had already cast their votes by mail-in.
By 10PM in June 25th the OC Registrar of Voters had finished counting the ballots. The vote was complete. In a special election with only one item on the ballot 25% of the Registered Voters had participated in the process of letting the Cypress City Council know where they stood on developing the open space. Click here to see the election results.
Measure A was defeated 69% (4,279 votes) to 31% (1,922 votes). Based on the OC Registers spending figures, that came out to $184.70 for every Yes vote.