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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.

They will also be found on this page each week as well.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

The colossal growth battles of 1972 & 2005

By Barry Schrader.................................November 10, 2005

This column is being written the day after the Nov. 8 election so a comparison with the greatest growth control battle in the valley’s history seems appropriate. For those who didn’t live here in the early 1970s, here’s a history lesson.

It was the fall of 1971 when a small group of citizens, concerned about double sessions in the schools, lack of water and sewage capacity and poor air quality, gathered in the living room of Jim Day on Cardinal Drive in Livermore to form a grassroots organization known as Save All Valley Environments, or SAVE for short. The founders were Day, Clarence Hoenig, and former councilman Mike Uthe, all from Livermore. When the group formally organized the officers were Hoenig as president, C. William Moore of Pleasanton as secretary-treasurer and others such as Marjorie Gardner from the Save Foothill Road movement, plus the “godfather” of the no-growth movement Don Miller.

Hoenig recalls that this was the first initiative drive in Livermore or Pleasanton and their grassroots movement attracted nationwide attention. Eventually the city councils put the measure on the ballot for April 1972 and it passed in both cities, effectively shutting down housing projects if there was inadequate school space, water or sewer capacity in either municipality. It was then challenged in court by the Bay Area builders association and went all the way to the California Supreme Court where it was upheld.

Along with the SAVE Initiative, which was championed by the Livermore Independent but opposed by the Herald and Pleasanton Times (this is before the Valley Times became a valleywide paper as well, eventually absorbing the Pleasanton Times), were city council elections in both Livermore and Pleasanton, three seats up in P-town and two in Livermore. The list of candidates grew to 10 for two council seats in Livermore and 11 for three seats in Pleasanton.

The candidates were overshadowed by the SAVE Initiative, much like what happened this week in Livermore’s Measure D and city council election, and each had to take a position on the Initiative and then run on that platform. But a curious thing happened. In Livermore the two pro-SAVE candidates, incumbent city councilman Don Miller and planning commissioner Archer Futch won seats to take control of the council, while Pleasanton voters chose three men on the opposite side of SAVE—Floyd Mori, Ed Kinney and Bill Herlihy.

The Independent had endorsed Miller and Futch in Livermore plus David Bigger, Ted Lannin and Chuck Seymour in P-town. The Herald backed Milt Codiroli and Bill Millard for Livermore council and Bill Herlihy, Ed Kinney and George Spiliotopoulos for the Pleasanton council. I could not find the editorial endorsements from the Pleasanton Times due to incomplete files for that year. (If someone knows the answer, email me so I can include it next week.) Editorial support from hometown newspapers meant a lot more 30 years ago than today, so elections were won and lost based on the “power of the press” in many communities. And of course the Independent came out the victor in the SAVE (Prop B) battle, but lost a lot more than it gained when major advertisers pulled out in retaliation and as a result the newspaper became a weekly instead of three times a week publication.

A sidelight to all this was a diversionary tactic by Livermore councilman Roger Silva to provide an alternative ballot measure (Prop A) that would also control growth but leave it in the hands of each city council. His weaker measure went down to defeat in the April election.

Now lets compare what happened in 1972 with the Livermore growth battle this week. Similarities are evident. The group opposed to Measure D fielded a candidate slate of three people (Kamena, Reitter and Marchand) which is the smart thing to do as a slate campaign is easier to run and combine resources. On the other side there were three candidates for two council seats (Bramell, Stein, and Aboumrad) plus Mertes for mayor. The council had cleverly postponed the Pardee Livermore Trails election from June to November so they had a ready-made campaign issue to rally around. Their strategy was successful, just as it was for Miller and Futch back in 1972, who came from the same growth control group 33 years ago. So not much has changed in Livermore politics over the past three decades when it comes to growth battles.

During the 1972 campaign an opposition group to SAVE was formed by former Livermore Mayors Gib Marguth and Milo Nordyke, named the Committee for Rational Valley Planning. They were joined by former mayors John Shirley, Roger Silva and Bob Patterson in their futile effort to avoid the growth freeze threat they saw in the passage of SAVE.

One could write a book on the number and variety of grassroots political committees formed in the Tri-Valley to fight one or more growth battles. To name a few: Citizens for Planned Progress, Citizens for Balanced Growth, Citizens Advocating Planned Progress, Save Our Cities, Save Our Hills, Caring About Livermore, Preserve Area Ridgelands Committee, Livermore Tomorrow, Save the Vineyards, the Fertile Crescent Coalition, and Friends of Livermore. There must be a half dozen others I have overlooked.

Something else unique about the historic 1972 election was the voter turnout. A whopping 69 percent of the registered voters in Pleasanton went to the polls and nearly 68 percent in Livermore. And that was before boiler room phone banks, Get Out the Vote campaigns, and automated recorded phone messages targeting frequent voters. Compare that turnout with this week’s election which saw about 51 percent of Livermore’s registered voters going to the polls.

So now you have a capsule history of the famous (or infamous) election of 1972. And since history repeated itself 33 years later, will the “other side” ever learn to field only the exact number of candidates needed on a slate and will developers finally give up on trying to build on the fields of North Livermore? Probably not, in either case!

***

The correct answer to last week’s question about the two Livermore Valley country schools torched after they were closed down was: Altamont (Summit) and May schools. Randy Moore of the Alameda County Fire Department who fought both fires was first to respond, followed by Peter Bailey, Helen Washburn, and Karen Madsen Faraldo. Also, Ann Homan called to report that the Morgan Territory School north of the Contra Costa County line was burned in 1949, two years after it closed. Ann is writing a history of Livermore and is looking for color slides or prints of the commercial rose gardens in the valley. If you have one, give her a call at 443-9440.

***

The history mystery quiz for next week: Who were the two men chosen mayors of each city by their councils after the 1972 city council elections?

 

The columnist can be reached via email at :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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