Monday, July 16 , 2018, 3:06 am | Fair 66º


Letter to the Editor: Censorship of Opposition to Measure P Campaign

With all the buzz on Measure P, I went to a social network site and visited both sides to see what’s being thrown at each other. I was quickly banned from commenting on the “No on P” Facebook site. On the “Yes on P” site, however, I got fully involved with key arguments on both sides and got immersed with commenting freely.

My wife wanted to leave a comment on a “No on P” site article, so I told her to get a screenshot as soon as she posted the comment in case it got deleted. Attached to this story is a copy of her posting. It not only got deleted after a few hours, but she is now banned from making comments on the site.

I didn’t see any basis for the post to be deleted other than it factually contradicted their views. The “Yes on P” site has a published guideline so you know why comments are deleted; they sometimes even post warnings to offending posts before being deleted.

We found this tactic of extreme censoring the “No on P” site is doing as very disturbing and made us wonder what else they are being deceitful about.

While it’s clear that the “Yes on P” group wants to ban future invasive oil extraction methods that pump foreign and dangerous substances into the ground, the “No on P” side seemed more concerned about the measure going too far as it could cause job loss and tax revenue losses. I thought this might have been a valid concern until I read the actual measure’s text. In the measure’s text, it clearly stated a list of exemptions including some specifics on existing projects.

A screenshot of the deleted post.

From the full text of the measure, it is stated on Section 5-C in Page 26: “The provisions of this Initiative shall not be applicable to any person or entity that has obtained, as of the Effective Date of this Initiative, a vested right, pursuant to State law, to conduct a High-Intensity Petroleum Operation.”

I then looked up how the California state law interprets “vested rights,” and here is what I found: "A vested mining right is a constitutionally protected property right to continue operating in a certain location and in a certain way without being required to conform to all current land use restrictions. Under most local zoning ordinances, a vested mining right falls into the category of a "nonconforming use" of land.

The leading court case in this area has described a "nonconforming use" in this way: "A legal nonconforming use is one that existed lawfully before a zoning restriction became effective and that is not in conformity with the ordinance when it continues thereafter. The use of the land, not its ownership, at the time the use becomes nonconforming determines the right to continue the use. Transfer of title does not affect the right to continue a lawful nonconforming use which runs with the land. Hansen Brothers Enterprises v. Board of Supervisors, 12 Cal. 4th 533, 540 fn. 1 (1996).”

Clearly from the measure’s text, no jobs will be lost on existing projects or even on those barely starting before the measure passes; therefore, the county taxes wouldn’t even be affected at all. The measure doesn’t even address offshore oil extractions where actual fracking might be occurring. With oil prices down almost half of its peak within the past couple years, there might not even be any new projects started even if the measure was not around.

To the contrary of the “no” claim of it going too far, it actually is sounding like this measure is not going far enough. But I’ll vote for it anyway as it is a step in the right direction.

Jonathan Abad

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