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April 12, 2016 — April Regular Elections

City of Rancho Mirage
Measure 1 Binding Measure - Majority Approval Required

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Limits on neighborhood electric vehicles
— undefined

Shall the City of Rancho Mirage require that any future amendment or repeal of Ordinance No. 1099, which currently prohibits Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (not including golf carts) on or adjacent to certain designated streets including Highway 111, Bob Hope Drive; Country Club Drive; Da Vall Drive; Dinah Shore Drive; Frank Sinatra Drive; Gerald Ford Drive; Magnesia Falls Drive; Monterey Avenue; Plumley Road, and others, be subject to prior voter approval?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Steven B. Quintanilla, Rancho Mirage City Attorney

If Measure 1 passes, it will prevent future Rancho Mirage City Councils from permitting any portion of CV Link to run through Rancho Mirage (other than on Ramon Road) unless first approved by a majority of Rancho Mirage voters. In addition, if Measure 1 passes, it will prevent the use of any streets under the City's jurisdiction for "Low-Speed Electric Vehicles" (LSEVs) and/or "Neighborhood Electric Vehicles" (NEVs), without prior voter approval. The California Vehicle Code provides that an LSEV is not a golf cart, with some limited exceptions, and that LSEVs are also known as NEVs.

The City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1099, which prohibits NEVs and LSEVs in certain areas and on certain streets within Rancho Mirage which include: Bob Hope Drive; Country Club Drive; Da Vall Drive; Dinah Shore Drive; Frank Sinatra Drive; Gerald Ford Drive; Highway 111; Magnesia Falls Drive; Monterey Avenue; Park View Drive; Plumley Road; and others.

The Vehicle Code provides that a city by ordinance may restrict or prohibit the use of NEVs/LSEVs within its jurisdiction. The Vehicle Code defines an NEV/LSEV as a motor vehicle that: (1) has four wheels; (2) can attain a speed, in one mile, of more than 20 mph and not more than 25 mph hour, on a paved level surface; and (3) has a gross vehicle weight of less than 3,000 pounds. The Vehicle Code further provides that an NEV/LSEV is subject to all the provisions applicable to a motor vehicle, and the California Streets and Highways Code requires the driver of an NEV/LSEV to possess a valid California driver's license and carry proof of insurance as required of drivers of standard motor vehicles. Per the Vehicle Code, the operator of an NEV/LSEV is prohibited from operating an NEV/LSEV on any roadway with a speed limit in excess of 35 mph. 

Ordinance No. 1099 also prohibits any "Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Plan" established pursuant to California Streets & Highways Code Section 1962.2 from including any area within Rancho Mirage unless the inclusion of such area is first approved by an ordinance of the City of Rancho Mirage. Ordinance No. 1099 also prohibits any portion of CV Link or any similar pathway from including any area within Rancho Mirage unless such inclusion is first approved by an ordinance of the City of Rancho Mirage. The March 2015 CV Link Master Plan indicates that CVAG plans to complete a "Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) Plan," which will consist of 211 miles of various NEV paths, lanes and routes throughout multiple jurisdictions within the Coachella Valley, including Rancho Mirage. If Measure 1 is approved, it will prevent Rancho Mirage from being included in such plan without first obtaining approval of the plan by the voters of Rancho Mirage.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Neither the Rancho Mirage City Council nor our residents were ever asked by the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) to approve their 50-mile, 20-to-30-foot wide CV Link as a valley-wide project for bicyclists, electric vehicles and pedestrians.

The cost of this extraordinarily expensive venture was projected by CVAG on October 1, 2013, to cost $70 million; months later the projection was at $80 million; then $90 Million; and currently 100 million. Not to mention the projected $1.6 million in annual operations and maintenance expenses that would be divided among eight cities and the County.

Contrary to CVAG's false claims, the vast majority of the money thus far raised by CVAG would be available for other local projects the Coachella Valley sorely needs. Virtually all of it comes from governmental tax sources.

A majority of CVAG's Executive Committee has stubbornly refused to acknowledge the negative impact on traffic flow on Highway 111, turning our Public Library into a restroom stop, impeding the entrance to our fire station, and excessive traffic in residential communities. No other city is remotely similarly impacted.

After being convinced that CVAG was adamant on routing CV Link along Highway 111 to Bob Hope Dr., and north to San Jacinto Dr. and back to Highway 111 and our Library, and then continuing west on Highway 111, the council voted 5-0 to ban the route as unsafe within our business community and disruptive in our residential communities.

Rejecting our city council's decision to protect our quality of life, CVAG voted to waste $150,000 on an environmental study examining the exact route the council has prohibited.

To give our residents peace of mind and increased protection, "Yes on Measure 1" will place future route decisions in the hands of residents rather than the politics of future city councils.

For your long term protection, vote "Yes" on Measure 1.

— City of Rancho Mirage

Arguments AGAINST

A current city council should not assert their will on future elected officials. It is bad policy, yet that is exactly what Measure 1 is designed to accomplish. Its purpose is to bind the hands of any person that we, the voters, choose to represent us in the future. That is the single mission driving our current Council's support of Measure 1.

The Council has already adopted Ordinance No. 1099, which is a ban on neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) on major roadways throughout Rancho Mirage. The Council imposed this ban as part of their opposition to CV Link. They did it after the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, the planning agency for the project, made two different offers to eliminate NEVs on the Rancho Mirage portion of CV Link.

It is ironic that the current council now strongly opposes NEVs, which are similar to golf carts in both their appearance and daily use, when past councils have embraced them. Rancho Mirage has a golf cart plan dating back to 1989, and includes many of the streets identified in Measure 1. The plan also authorized golf carts along the Whitewater River channel and on the ButlerAbrams Trail. NEVs are simply part of the evolution of the golf cart, and our city should continue to embrace them and make sure they can travel safely through the community-not ban them for all time.

Voting NO on this measure won't stop the city's ban on NEVs. But it will make sure that future elected leaders will have the flexibility to make their own decisions and embrace progress and technology. Don't lock us into the past.

This is simply BAD public policy. VOTE NO on Measure 1.

— City of Rancho Mirage

Replies to Arguments FOR

The following individuals signed the official rebuttal argument in favor of Measure 1:

  • Dana Hobart, Mayor of Rancho Mirage
  • Ted Weill, Mayor Pro-tem of Rancho Mirage
  • Richard W. Kite, City Council Member
  • Iris M. Smotrich, City Council Member
  • Charles Townsend Vinci, City Council Member

The Rancho Mirage City Council's ban prevents CV Link from traversing on or adjacent to Rancho Mirage streets where hazardous conditions exist. CV Link will be 20' to 30' wide; people and pets walk, skateboarders and bicyclists roll along with Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) cruising up to 25MPH. This combination creates serious hazards for people entering and exiting businesses and residential communities on our busiest streets. (Golf carts continue to be allowed on streets with speed limits 35MPH or less.)

No valley city comes close to being so negatively impacted by the CV Link route as Rancho Mirage – yet, CVAG (Coachella Valley Association of Governments) rejects our proposed Ramon Road route. Would Palm Desert allow CV Link on El Paseo? Or Highway 111? Not Likely!

The need for this ballot measure is because the fight isn’t over. CVAG’s Executive Director was caught on tape divulging an approach to reverse our City Council’s decision. He stated, "…politics change and generations change [and our $150,000 environmental impact expenditure] gives somebody in the future an opportunity to make a different decision than somebody today might."

Residents worry constantly about the negative impact CV Link will have on our busiest streets and residential communities. They also worry about increased crime opportunities. Our current law helps insulate us, but CVAG leadership is contemplating overturning our law with the election of a new council.

If this law is to be changed by "somebody in the future," it should be done by affected Rancho Mirage residents – rather than new three council members who may be politically indebted to CVAG.

City Council Recommendation: Vote YES.

— City of Rancho Mirage

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The following individuals signed the official rebuttal argument against Measure 1:

  • Gary Lueders, Vice President of Friends of CV Link
  • Larry Parish, Retired CEO in Riverside County 
  • Robert Brockman, Former Rancho Mirage Community Development Director
  • David Fierstone, Desert Bicycle Club Member
  • Roger Snoble, Retired CEO of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Measure 1 is not about CV Link. It is about limiting the authority of all future council members. The Council’s argument doesn’t actually address Measure 1. Instead, they rant about CV Link being unsafe even though the purpose of CV Link is to create a safe environment for pedestrians, bicyclist and NEVs by separating them from general traffic.

CV Link as planned would not share any general traffic lane but be exclusively on its own path.

CV Link will have its own rest stops. Our public Library now has bike racks and even electric vehicle charging stations seeming to welcome anyone coming to the library on bikes and electric vehicles.

CV Link is only now starting into the environmental process which is designated to identify issues and solve them. The process may well result in an improved plan that a future council may or may not support. Taking that option away from them by requiring another vote is not only wrong but expensive. It is premature to vote on a draconian measure like this before we know what the details of the project will be.

If this is good policy then there should be a public vote on every project the city is planning in the future. If so why do we need a council?

Measure 1 sets a dangerous precedent and is bad public policy.

VOTE NO on Measure 1.


— City of Rancho Mirage

More information

News (1)

Rancho Mirage mayor walks fine line on CV Link talk — February 15, 2016 The Desert Sun
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