Election Endorsements

Ballot-box zoning is wrong way to control growth

Howard Penn
Howard Penn

El Dorado County voters have some important decisions to make on Nov. 4 about how their communities grow, or how they don’t.

On the ballot are two Board of Supervisors seats and three fairly complicated growth measures, M, N, and O. We are recommending an across-the-board “no” on all three measures. Growth planning is best done through the unglamorous but effective method of public discussion, hearings and work groups – not by asking voters to unravel dense land-use measures that could have long-lasting, and quite unintended, consequences.

Measures M and O are more accurately anti-growth measures placed on the ballot by residents legitimately worried about large-scale housing subdivisions planned for their communities. Measure N was put on the ballot by Sacramento-based Region Builders PAC, as a type of counter to Measure M, but the proponents have abandoned it. Voters should, too.

The concepts behind Measures M and O are attractive to voters. Measure M would put a stop to massive developments until traffic on Highway 50 drops below a certain level. Measure O would restrict growth in a few county communities. Both are extremely complicated and confusing even to people used to reading land-use documents.

We think voters can, and should, weigh in on the future of El Dorado County by electing county supervisors who represent their position. The opponents of the three measures correctly note that the appropriate way to chart growth is through an update of the county’s general plan, which is occurring right now. If voters don’t like the outcome, they should elect representatives to change it.

That happened more or less in a special election last month. Shiva Frentzen, a computer consultant, was elected to replace ousted county Supervisor Ray Nutting. Frentzen was one of the co-signers of Measure M, and that was likely what led her to victory over the other five candidates.

In choosing Frentzen, voters in that district were endorsing what she stood for as well. That’s how a representative democracy should work.

If voters in District 4 are concerned about growth, they would be wise to elect Howard Penn on Nov. 4. Penn is a co-signer of Measure M, but that’s not why we endorsed him in the June primary and continue to recommend him for the general. It was because he’s smart, articulate and rational, and would make a fine supervisor.

Penn, a business consultant and former owner of the historic Sierra Nevada House, is running on a slow-growth platform and supports commercial growth before residential, as do many others in the county. His opponent, Michael Ranalli, is backed by the opponents of Measure M, which makes this race a clear choice for voters.

For District 5, we recommend Sue Novasel, a smart, engaged businesswoman, community leader and longtime member of the Lake Tahoe Unified school board. She will bring professionalism and important perspective to what has been a dysfunctional board, while remaining a strong voice for the Lake Tahoe communities.

She has an impressive list of endorsements that span the political spectrum: labor, law enforcement, business, farmers and the county’s Democratic Central Committee. Novasel believes land-use decisions aren’t well served by the ballot box.

Novasel is running against Kenny Curtzwiler, a self-described ski bum and seasonal businessman. He lacks crucial experience that Novasel has.

With Penn and Novasel joining Frentzen, we are confident they will be able to change the dynamics enough on the county Board of Supervisors that these and other land-use measures will be unnecessary.

Growth that threatens the natural beauty or livability of this Sierra and foothills county is a real concern. Residents should express their opinion by voting for their county representatives and no on these three measures, and to overuse of the initiative process.


Here are The Sacramento Bee editorial board’s recommendations statewide offices, propositions and House seats for the Nov. 4 election.

Governor: Jerry Brown

Lieutenant governor: Gavin Newsom

Attorney general: Kamala Harris

Controller: Ashley Swearengin

Secretary of state: Alex Padilla

Superintendent of public instruction: Marshall Tuck

Treasurer: John Chiang

Insurance commissioner: Dave Jones

State Supreme Court: Retain all

Third District Court: Retain all

Proposition 1: Yes

Proposition 2: Yes

Proposition 45: No

Proposition 46: No

Proposition 47: No

Proposition 48: No


District 3: John Garamendi

District 4: Art Moore

District 7: Ami Bera