Monterey County still has some 7000 absentee ballots that need to be counted, but it appears voters have rejected two opposing initiatives on Tuesday’s ballot. Measures M and K dealt with the future of some 500 acres on the former Fort Ord.
Don Jensen, Larry Thornley and Louis Distefinio straddle their bikes along Giggling Road on the former Fort Ord. They are all seniors and have been ridding here for years. Larry Thornley started in 1998.
“When I first came out here, there were wild pigs,” he says.
They all are surprised at the election outcome. Measure M would have stopped most development on a nearby parcel and preserved it for open space recreation. The thought that development might be coming to their bike friendly area frustrates Thornley’s friend Don Jensen.
Jensen says, “You go straight out this road a thousand yards and there are on they are going to wipe out every tree between here and East Garrison.’
It also frustrates Measure’ M’s spokesman Jason Campbell. He blames last night’s defeat on voter confusion.
Campbell says proponents of Measure K misled voters. Measure K would have continued the designation of the 500 acres for development, but would have also added conditions that made it easier to build the proposed Monterey Downs complex—an Equestrian themed housing and business development and horse racing track.
Campbell says his group plans to regroup and see what the politicians do.
Campbell says, “If they recognize the fact Monterey Downs is highly unpopular by the outcome of Measure K yesterday and how strong Measure M did perform, hopefully they will reconsider their positions and come up with a better plan; a better future for the former Fort Ord.”
With the votes counted so far, Measure M is losing by a little more than 2000 votes. Measure K on the other hand is losing by more than 8 thousand votes.
The big loss does not frustrate Measure K supporter Sid Williams. He is just happy to see Measure M defeated. He believes that development on the site will help his Veteran’s group raise money by selling adjacent land they have designated as the “endowment parcel.” The group is building a cemetery for Veterans near the disputed land.
Williams says, “Monterey Downs will do what Monterey Downs has to do to see if they can get approval or not. The Veteran’s cemetery is going to be built. So for us even though we didn’t win our particular initiative we think it is a win for the county. “
Seaside City Manager John Dunn says his city is back to where it was before the campaign and election started. Monterey Downs has in an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city meaning no other developer can make a proposal. But Dunn says that doesn’t mean the project has been approved.
Dunn says, “They still have to go through the process and that process will take us at least through the spring and summer of next year.”
Legal challenges and reviews may extend that timetable. It could be years before any ground is broken.
Back on Giggling Road, biker Louis Distefanlo is philosophical about Measure M’s loss.
Distefanlo says, “We’ll see what develops. Hopefully things will be in such a mess that it will be delayed for several years..(laugh)…and I won’t be riding anymore.”
PLEASE NOTE: In the audio version of this story we referred to Jason Campbell as the author of Measure M. He is not the author, rather he is the "Principal Officer" and "Spokesperson" for Measure M.