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Nevada County gives update on redistricting process

Every 10 years, the census rolls around.

It’s used as a tool when determining boundaries for congressional districts. However, it also plays a role in the shape of school and county supervisor districts.

A redistricting meeting held last week in Nevada County was one of the first steps toward possibly redrawing district lines.

Douglas Yoakam, consultant from the National Demographics Corporation, and Steve Monaghan, county chief information officer, led the meeting.

“Every Nevada County resident should be a part of the redistricting process,” Monaghan said.

Census data will become available Aug. 16, a late date because of the pandemic and a debate in Congress over what should be included in the census, Yoakam said.

According to Yoakam, every 10 years supervisor districts could be redrawn, to make them work more efficiently and equitably. That requires resident feedback. However, the process is driven by the population count certified by the Census Bureau.

Supervisors in February opted to have a County Staff Advisory Committee recommend district boundaries. Supervisors will have the final say on those boundaries.

Additional data will be included at the first official public hearing, set for Aug. 24 in Truckee, which will encompass input from residents comprising Communities of Interest. COIs are geographical areas that have a shared social or economic interest that can be affected by county policy such as transportation, housing or public safety emergencies, like fire protection.

At subsequent public hearings residents will be able to contribute their ideas on maps and access mapping tools.


Under state law counties are required to follow numerous redistricting guidelines. A district must be approximately equal in population. And elections must follow the Federal Voting Rights Act.

“We cannot deliberately discriminate against a protected class of voters, either by splitting them up or combining them in a way that takes away their right to elect a supervisor of their choice — no racial gerrymandering,” said Yoakam.

The state’s Fair Maps Act requires a district to be geographically contiguous. If possible, it cannot divide geographical areas kept together through unity of interest (COIs), ethnic enclaves or Census Designated Places. In addition, a district must use easily identifiable boundaries, such as rivers or a major highway, rather than a meandering boundary used to break up neighborhoods.

“Also, make districts compact to the extent possible, by not bypassing one group of people to get to another group, which could favor one political party over another,” Yoakam said.

It is vital county residents consider participating in redistricting, said Taylor Wolfe, administrative analyst with the county.

“This process happens every 10 years following the census to ensure each board member represents the same amount of constituents,” she said. “Redistricting determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped together into a district for purposes of electing a board member.”

Oct. 22 is the deadline for the initial draft maps from public input, Yoakam said. Nov. 9 will be the second official hearing. The final adoption of the redistricting ordinance is set for Dec. 14.

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at wroller@theunion.com

U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa supports election lawsuit dismissed by Supreme Court

A Texas lawsuit supported by U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa alleging voting irregularities in several states and asking for an injunction stopping certification was dismissed Friday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The suit, filed this week by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and supported by more than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, claims voting procedure changes in battleground states Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin violated the Constitution, using the coronavirus pandemic as pretext.

The suit sought to hold off election certification and delay the deadline for Electoral College votes to be cast, but was dismissed by majority opinion of the court for lack of standing. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas argued for the court to hear the suit in their dissent.

“The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution,” the decision states. “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its election. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”

An amicus brief supporting the defendant states was signed onto by 22 states Thursday, including California.

Nevada County Republican Party Chair Bob Hren supported the lawsuit.

“I strongly support that brief and the lawsuit that alleges violations of the U.S. Constitution by the four states when they adopted election procedures not by legislative action but rather by court and executive decrees,” Hren said in an email. “These illegal actions cast doubt on the outcome of their elections.”

Hren declined to comment on whether the party was concerned about voting practices in California’s election.

LaMalfa, whose district includes most of Nevada County, could not be reached for comment Friday, but previously questioned the integrity of the election. Last month LaMalfa took to social media expressing concern that the outcome may be illegitimate in a post that was flagged as potentially ”misleading” by Twitter.

“The circumstances surrounding this Presidential election point to a fraudulent outcome,” the post reads. “The reports we’ve seen of non-residents, deceased voters, potential mail fraud, and partisan poll watching are deeply concerning, and must be challenged.”

U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, whose district includes a small portion of eastern Nevada County, also supported the lawsuit.

This month LaMalfa introduced election legislation that, among other provisions, would only count ballots arriving at the elections office by Election Day and would not accept ballots turned in by proxy, unless done by a direct family member.

He also joined several Republican representatives in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr asking the Justice Department to use all resources at its disposal to combat “widespread reports of irregularities.”

After directing the department to investigate any substantial allegations of voter fraud last month, Barr has since said no widespread fraud that could have changed the election outcome has been found.

So far, suits attempting to overturn the outcome of the election have been unsuccessful.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

Election 2020: Nevada County certifies its vote

The Nevada County elections offices on Wednesday, Nov. 25, certified its vote. 65,800 out of 75,123 registered voters cast ballots, or 87.59%.

Grass Valley City Council, Full Term, Three will be seated

  • Janet Arbuckle: 3,537
  • Bob Branstrom: 2,978
  • Steven Conrad: 941
  • Thomas Ivy: 2,985
  • Edward W. Peevey: 1,722

Nevada City City Council, Short Term, One will be seated

  • Amy Cobden: 717
  • Catalina Llanos: 310
  • Gary Petersen: 956

Nevada Irrigation District Division 3, Full Term, One will be seated

  • Karen Hull: 5,705
  • W Scott Miller: 5,126

Nevada Irrigation District Division 5, Full Term, One will be seated

  • Rich Johansen: 5,367
  • John Norton: 4,733

Nevada County Board of Education Trustee Area 1, Short Term, Two will be seated

  • Susan E. Clarabut: 24,576
  • Peggy A Delgado Fava: 21,225
  • Louise B. Johnson: 23,018

Nevada County Board of Education Trustee Area 2, Full Term, One will be seated

  • J. Timothy May: 22,658
  • Ashley V. Neumann: 21,870

Nevada County Board of Education Trustee Area 3, Full Term, One will be seated

  • Julie Baker: 24,083
  • Grace Hudek: 20,696

Measure L — Whether the offices of Nevada City clerk and city treasurer should be appointed

Yes: 1,279

No: 708

Measure M — Whether to extend Measure M, a half-cent sales tax enacted in 2006 and set to expire at the end of 2022

Yes: 1,837

No: 253

Measure N — Should Grass Valley have a cannabis business tax

Yes: 3,879

No: 2,583

Measure O — Should the Beyers Lane Community Service District have a parcel tax increase

Yes: 44

No: 36

Nevada City Elementary School District, Full Term, Two will be seated

  • David Alkire: 2,701
  • Sandra M Barrington: 4,120
  • Ty Conway: 3,257
  • James Sperlazza: 2,667

Nevada Joint Union High School District Trustee Area 4, Full Term, One will be seated

  • DuWaine Ganskie: 4,804
  • Leslie Lattyak: 3,548

Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, Full Term, Four will be seated

  • Thomas E Carrington: 10,121
  • Shawana Cresswell: 5,562
  • Spencer W Garrett: 10,870
  • Patricia L Nelson: 10,589
  • Marianne Slade-Troutman: 10,001

State and federal races

State Senate, District 1

Pamela Dawn Swartz: 218,606

Brian Dahle: 323,863

State Assembly, District 1

Elizabeth L Betancourt: 101,715

Megan Dahle: 145,662

1st Congressional District

Audrey Denney: 153,372

Doug LaMalfa: 202,860

Less than 6K votes left to count in Nevada County races

A measure increasing parcel taxes for the Beyers Lane Community Service District has made a comeback, according to the latest county vote tally released Tuesday afternoon.

Aside from the swing in support for Measure O, the most up-to-date vote count did little to change the outcome of local races.

As of Tuesday, 55,005 votes were counted from a possible 74,467 registered voters. Nevada County Assistant Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters Natalie Adona said the elections office has about 5,900 ballots left to count and updates can be expected every Tuesday and Friday.

All results are unofficial and incomplete. The county must certify results to the state no later than 31 days following the election.

If voter turnout estimates hold up, just over 60,000 of 74,467 registered county voters will have cast their ballot, a nearly 80% turnout.

In the 2018 statewide general election, 79% of 68,869 registered residents voted. In the 2016 presidential election, voter turnout was at 68%, or 45,167 votes cast.


Janet Arbuckle: 3,241

Thomas Ivy: 2,741

Bob Branstrom: 2,711

Edward W. Peevey: 1,574

Steven Conrad: 859


Gary Petersen: 811

Amy Cobden: 589

Catalina Llanos: 254


Karen Hull: 5,060

W. Scott Miller: 4,572


Rich Johansen: 4,530

John Norton: 4,155



Susan E. Clarabut: 20,892

Louise B. Johnson: 19,557

Peggy A Delgado Fava: 17,751



J. Timothy May: 19,156

Ashley V. Neumann: 18,378



Julie Baker: 20,462

Grace Hudek: 17,271


Spencer W. Garrett: 8,780

Patricia L. Nelson: 8,588

Thomas E. Carrington: 8,236

Marianne Slade-Troutman: 8,117

Shawana Cresswell: 4,395


Sandra M. Barrington: 3,539

Ty Conway: 2,836

David Alkire: 2,352

James Sperlazza: 2,342


DuWaine Ganskie: 3,470

Leslie Lattyak: 2,583


Yes: 1,076

No: 587


Yes: 1,547

No: 201


Yes: 3,546

No: 2,339


Yes: 42

No: 35

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

Vote totals updated for Nevada County races

The most up-to-date vote tally, released Friday afternoon, shows little change in the election outcome for local races, though the final numbers will determine whether turnout this year could break records.

As of Friday, 40,652 ballots were counted from a possible 74,467 registered voters. Nevada County Assistant Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters Natalie Adona said the elections office has about 19,000 ballots left to count and updates can be expected every Tuesday and Friday.

All results are unofficial and incomplete. The county must certify results to the state no later than 31 days following the election.

If voter turnout estimates hold up, just under 60,000 of 74,467 registered county voters will have cast their ballot, a nearly 80% turnout.

In the 2018 statewide general election, 79% of 68.869 registered residents voted. In the 2016 presidential election, voter turnout was at 68%, or 45,167 votes cast.

In the Grass Valley City Council race, 8,316 of 9,087 possible ballots have been counted. In the race to fill the vacated Nevada City Council seat, 1,541 of 2,467 possible ballots have been counted.


Janet Arbuckle: 2,666

Bob Branstrom: 2,234

Thomas Ivy: 2,230

Edward W. Peevey: 1,270

Steven Conrad: 687


Gary Petersen: 774

Amy Cobden: 547

Catalina Llanos: 220


Karen Hull: 4,464

W. Scott Miller: 3,931


Rich Johansen: 2,346

John Norton: 2,254



Susan E. Clarabut: 16,264

Peggy A Delgado Fava: 13,252

Louise B. Johnson: 15,062


J. Timothy May: 14,798

Ashley V. Neumann: 13,770


Julie Baker: 15,982

Grace Hudek: 12,778


Spencer W Garrett: 6,720

Patricia L Nelson: 6,653

Thomas E Carrington: 6,307

Marianne Slade-Troutman: 6,218

Shawana Cresswell: 3,301


Sandra M Barrington: 3,063

Ty Conway: 2,455

David Alkire: 2,033

James Sperlazza: 2,089


DuWaine Ganskie: 2,551

Leslie Lattyak: 1,929


Yes: 1,012

No: 540


Yes: 1,431

No: 188


Yes: 2,895

No: 1,861


Yes: 19

No: 21

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

Nevada County vote centers open now

More than half of Nevada County registered voters have returned their ballots as of Thursday, with only days left before election day.

For the 45% of registered county voters who haven’t, seven vote centers throughout the county will open today.

More than 64% percent of the county’s registered Democrats ­— over 18,500­ — have already voted. Over 51% of the county’s registered Republicans ­— more than 12,500 — have voted.

Nevada County has more than 15,000 voters registered as no party preference or decline to state, more than 7,000 of which have already cast their votes.

If people have not already registered to vote, they can still register as conditional voters at www.sos.ca.gov/elections.

Ballots can be dropped off immediately at the Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City, or at drop box locations around the county. Additional drop box locations and in-person voting centers will begin operations today.

Voters can track their ballots through the state’s Where’s My Ballot initiative, which gives voters updates via email, text, or call about the status of their ballot during each step of the process.

If people did not receive a ballot or need a new one, they can request a replacement ballot to pick up in person at the Eric Rood Administrative Center during early voting, or at a vote center starting today by visiting www.mynevadacounty.com/3074/Will-Call-Replacement-Ballots.

People can also request a replacement be mailed to them by calling 530-265-1298.

If people are informed by the Elections Office of a discrepancy in their ballot signature, they can use forms at www.mynevadacounty.com/3124/Missing-and-Mismatched-Signatures to cure the mistake up to two days before the election is certified. People can also update their signatures at that site.

Voter guide information is mailed along with ballots, but can also be downloaded on the county elections office website — www.mynevadacounty.com/elections.

People can sign up to be poll workers on the California Secretary of State website, or by calling the elections office at 530-265-1298.


8 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting today to Nov. 2; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3

• Nevada County Fairgrounds Main Event Hall: 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

• Sierra College Gymnasium: 250 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley

• Bear River High School Gymnasium: 11130 Magnolia Road, Grass Valley

• Gold Miners Inn ballroom: 121 Bank St., Grass Valley

• Eric Rood Administrative Center, Providence Mine Conference Room: 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City

• Tahoe Truckee Unified School Gymnasium: 11603 Donner Pass Road, Truckee

• Truckee Public Works Bay: 10969 Stevens Lane, Truckee

Election day only, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3

• North San Juan Community Center: 29190 Highway 49, North San Juan


• 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.: BriarPatch Food Co-op, 290 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley

• 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Chicago Park Store, 19077 Colfax Highway, Grass Valley

• 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Grocery Outlet, 616 Sutton Way, Grass Valley

• Open 24 hours: Gold Miners Inn lobby, 121 Bank St., Grass Valley

• 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends: Hills Flat Lumber Co., 380 Railroad Ave., Grass Valley

• 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.: SPD Market, 129 W. McKnight Way, Grass Valley

• 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Save Mart, 12054 Nevada City Highway, Grass Valley

• Open 24 hours: Eric Rood Administrative Center parking lot, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City

• 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Holiday Market, 11324 Pleasant Valley Road, Penn Valley

• 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Holiday Market, 21656 Higgins Road, Auburn

• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday: Sweetland Garden Mercantile: 29435 Highway 49, North San Juan

• 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Grocery Outlet, 11213 Donner Pass Road, Truckee

• Open 24 hours: Truckee Town Hall, 10183 Truckee Airport Road, Truckee

• 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Save Mart, 11399 Deerfield Drive, Truckee

Starting today, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Nevada County Fairgrounds Main Event Hall, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

• Sierra College Gymnasium, 250 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley

• Bear River High School Gymnasium, 11130 Magnolia Road, Grass Valley

• Gold Miners Inn ballroom, 121 Bank St., Grass Valley

• Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City

• Tahoe Truckee Unified School Gym, 11603 Donner Pass Road, Truckee

• Truckee Public Works Bay, 10969 Stevens Lane, Truckee

• North San Juan Community Center, 29190 Highway 49 North San Juan

All drop boxes are open until 8 p.m. Nov. 3, election day.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

Nevada County Republican Party cancels Saturday car rally


“A car rally was scheduled to gather at and depart from the Rood Center parking lot the afternoon of Saturday, October 17, 2020.

It was brought to our attention that the Rood Center now has a Vote Center that is open Monday through Friday. There is also now an official Ballot Drop Box in the parking lot.

California State law prohibits “electioneering” within 100 feet of either of these official election facilities. That includes displaying any election or candidate signs within these zones.

This potential issue was not foreseen when the rally was planned, and there was never any intention to interfere with individual voting rights. The County has been cooperative in seeking a way to allow this rally to proceed at the Rood Center while not infringing on the election distancing regulations.

However, even with vehicle traffic protocols in place, given the limited traffic pathways within the Rood Center, it is still possible that an inadvertent violation could occur. Thus, in an abundance of caution and to assure complete access to these official voting facilities, the Nevada County Republican Party has officially cancelled this rally.

Alternative gathering and starting points will be evaluated for potential future rallies. Please visit our Facebook page for further information at www.facebook.com/ncountygop.”

Source: Nevada County Republican Party

Audrey Denney, Doug LaMalfa spar in forum

A forum this week between Republican U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa and Democrat Audrey Denney was the one opportunity this election season for residents of California’s 1st Congressional District to compare their priorities with that of the candidates.

Denney began her opening statement at the Wednesday forum, streamed online, by comparing the current state of affairs to what it was when she and LaMalfa sat down together for the first time two years ago.

“A lot of changes have happened since the last time we talked and honestly, not for the better,” said Denney, challenging LaMalfa for the second time for his seat.

Denney noted the psychosocial weight of the global pandemic and an unemployment rate — 11.4% as of August 2020 — that is double what it was in 2018.

LaMalfa also recalled the 2018 election in his opening statement and highlighted the importance of working with the federal government to address the wildfire crises in California.

“Two days after the election we had a disaster of unparalleled proportions,” LaMalfa said, referring to the Camp Fire.

LaMalfa said state and federal government need to work quickly and in harmony and prevent and respond to crises.

When asked to share his views on the causes of the region’s record-breaking wildfires and identify possible solutions, LaMalfa said he would not speak to whether the “dramatic increase in pace and scale” of the local flames was human caused.

“I’m not here to debate what percent is human caused or nature caused, but we need to talk about what to do about it,” LaMalfa added, “instead of making more schemes to use climate change as a means to take money from … people.”

LaMalfa said his district could consider using biomass collected from cleared “overcrowded forests” to create electricity.

“It’s not cheap but neither is solar or wind,” LaMalfa said. “The jobs are in our backyard, cleanup is in our backyard and it helps meet the California state requirement for renewables.”

Denney said she was tired of the media using the local devastation for photo opportunities, and also disillusioned by the partisan leaders who participate in the climate change blame game.

Denney said LaMalfa has a history of voting against increased environmental protections, and said proper management requires updated technology and collaboration between local governing bodies and native tribes.

Denney noted that over 50% of the land in the district is public land, and of that 57% belongs to the federal government. Because of that, Denney expressed faith in having and promoting use of stewardship contracts.


Denney said the farm bill — a bill primarily focused on food and agriculture that is renewed around every five years — may be an appropriate conduit for everyone on the spectrum to create an “integrated resource management plan.” Denney said the farm bill could include the interests of both loggers and environmentalists.

Denney said forest management can be integrated into the local economy if the domestic timber industry was managed better.

Pivoting topics, Denney said PG&E needs to be better regulated amidst claims of dated power infrastructure and almost random power shut-offs. Denney cited a quote from the incumbent in an article published Feb. 7 in The Union which the Congressman said PG&E needed “more freedom” from the oversight of the California Public Utilities Commission. Denney said LaMalfa was not likely to require the private utility company to be accountable to its customers given its PAC’s donations to his campaign.

LaMalfa said he sought to reduce the sporadic power shut-offs by loosening restrictions on permits, and bypassing slow forest service bureaucracy.

“We’re supposedly the most advanced state, but we have power shut-offs because it’s windy and hot,” LaMalfa said.

As the conversation steered into watershed management, LaMalfa expressed interest in constructing dams in several different waterways in his district.

Denney said she constantly seeks out more integrated solutions.

“Every dollar of greenhouse reduction funds can go into forest management,’ Denney said.

Denney said the U.S. government ought to take immediate action to allay the affects of climate change to once again establish itself as a world leader and set an example for bigger polluters, like India and China.

Denney said donations from Exxon and Chevron to LaMalfa’s campaign may cloud his understanding of the climate crisis.

LaMalfa expressed doubt about the detrimental effects of climate change, but applauded the nation’s environmental accomplishments so far.

“We’re the only country to see reductions in recent years,” LaMalfa said. “That’s assuming that 0.04% of our atmosphere being CO2 is a big deal.”

LaMalfa celebrated the concept and use of internal combustion engines, and lamented the loss of hydroelectric dams and the nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo.


Regarding COVID-19, LaMalfa said it is up to constituents to determine the amount of risk they want to take on when venturing outside.

Denney said LaMalfa’s individualistic take on a global crisis was selfish and has had real implications. Shasta County’s positivity rate is indicative of its role as the epicenter for the anti-mask movement, Denney added.

“Wear your damn mask,” Denney said. “Politics has no place on the table in a global pandemic.”

LaMalfa said given the prediction that two million Americans would die at the beginning of the pandemic, he feels that the current administration has handled the crisis as well as one could have.

Pivoting to health care, Denney said the congressman voted five times to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, an imperfect piece of legislation that many of his constituents rely on.

“The ACA is not what its name implies for people who pay for it,” LaMalfa said. “We have an amazing health care system with amazing doctors and amazing pharmaceuticals.”

“Many things are developed in this country,” LaMalfa added. “We’re not in socialist country. We have the ability to innovate and create.”

According to the California Health Care foundation, over 15 million Californians are insured by some facet of the ACA.

Denney and LaMalfa agreed that the district needs better access to broadband to cultivate an intelligent and able workforce.

Denney said if the major providers are unable to service a particular area, it’s the local authority’s responsibility to ensure that other broadband providers have access to the opportunity.

The forum concluded with LaMalfa saying that “systemic racism does not exist.”

LaMalfa added that it was the Democrats who supported slavery pre-Civil War. “Racism exists and we’ve always been somewhat aware.”

Denney said the impact of structural issues that make life harder for people based on the color of their skin can be measured. She cited health care outcomes, and acts of violence as just a few.

“My core belief as a human being is that all human beings are inherently equal,” Denney said, adding that she hopes to lead the district throughout her tenure with that core belief in mind.

The forum was sponsored by Western Nevada County’s League of Women Voters, whose mission is “to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government.” It was moderated by attorney Jennifer Granger.

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com.

Watch the Audrey Denney/Doug LaMalfa forum for 1st Congressional District

See the forum here:

Handful of local measures on Nevada County ballot

Depending on where they live, some Nevada County voters will have local ballot measures to consider this election.

Nevada City voters have two questions — whether the city clerk and treasurer should be appointed, not elected; and if they want to extend a half-cent sales tax due to expire in two years. Grass Valley voters have one question: Do they want a cannabis business tax?

Voters in the Beyers Lane Community Service District will decide if they want to increase their parcel tax.

Measure L

Measure L submits to voters the question of whether the offices of Nevada City clerk and city treasurer should be appointed. They are currently elective offices.

An argument in favor of Measure L was filed with Nevada County elections by Nevada City Mayor Erin Minett, Vice Mayor Duane Strawser, former City Council member Valerie Moberg, and City Clerk Niel Locke.

In the argument, they said that over 75% of California cities have an appointed city clerk and over 65% have an appointed city treasurer, a shift they said has been developing over the last 55 years. 

“Today, municipal government and regulations have become more complex,” they wrote. “Independent audits and internal controls provide necessary oversight and accountability for the city’s administration and finances.”

They cited the specialized skills necessary to perform each of these roles, arguing that it is important that candidates be chosen based on possessing the appropriate skillset. Professional experience and expertise in elections and fair political practice laws, the Brown Act, and records retention management is essential in a city clerk. Similarly, a city treasurer should be equipped with professional experience and expertise in municipal fund accounting, government report requirements, investment regulations, and debt management.

According to their filed argument, a “yes” vote for Measure L would “(guarantee) that minimum qualifications are established, ensuring that qualified professionals with the required expertise are selected.”

According to the measure, should it pass, the Nevada City Council would appoint a new city clerk or city treasurer when the terms of those currently in office expire or there is otherwise a vacancy.

No arguments were filed against the measure.

Measure M

Nevada City voters this November will decide whether to extend Measure M, a half-cent sales tax enacted in 2006 and set to expire at the end of 2022.

The tax would fund an estimated $550,000 annually for streets, sidewalks, pathways, water distribution, sewer collection and street drainage.

The measure requires two-thirds voter approval to pass. If not passed, the city could put the measure on the ballot again in 2022.

According to an argument in favor of the measure, the tax has funded $9 million in improvements to 22 miles of roadways and sidewalks, but is still $33 million behind in water and sewer pipe replacement.

“If Measure M fails, our recently restored roads and sidewalks will fall to disrepair, there will be continued emergency repairs to replace 130-year-old pipes requiring the city to dig up recently restored roadways and failing sewer pipes could trigger costly state and federal fines,” the argument states. “Measure M will maintain our roads, sidewalks and pipes and will spread the cost of repair fairly for everyone that uses Nevada City’s infrastructure.”

No argument was filed in opposition to the measure.

Measure N

The city of Grass Valley is proposing a cannabis business license tax, similar to one passed by Nevada City in 2018.

Cannabis businesses are not yet permitted in Grass Valley, but the city hopes the passage of Measure N will lay the groundwork for taxing them, just in case that changes.

The measure proposes initial rates and sets maximum tax amounts for each type of business. Depending on lighting source, cultivators would be taxed between 50 cents to $4 per square foot annually, with businesses using exclusively artificial lighting paying the most. The tax is modeled after Nevada City’s tax structure, but adds an additional tax on gross profits from high potency cannabis products and sweetened cannabis drinks.

The ballot argument in favor of the tax was written by Mayor Lisa Swarthout and Council member Howard Levine, and frames it as a way to stabilize the city’s finances without raising taxes on residents and property owners.

“Even though Grass Valley has not yet allowed cannabis businesses, deliveries are happening here and the people making money in this business contribute nothing to the cost of the services they need,” the argument states. 

Measure N will allow Grass Valley to tax cannabis businesses that deliver there or that the city may allow in the future, the argument states. 

This will ensure the cannabis industry pays its fair share for city services, and is not a tax on cannabis users but a business tax, the argument states. 

Measure N would impose a yearly license tax of up to $7 a square foot of commercial grow area, 8% of retail receipts and 6% of other receipts, with an additional tax on highly potent products, to last until amended by voters. 

“High potency” cannabis or cannabis product means cannabis flower containing more than 17% THC or a cannabis product containing more than 50% THC, excluding edibles containing 10 mg or less of THC per packaged and labeled dose.

The initial rate of the business tax will be $4 per square foot of canopy space in a facility that uses exclusively artificial lighting; $3 a square foot for a combination of artificial and natural light; $1 a square foot for facilities that use no artificial lighting; and 50 cents a square foot of canopy space for any nursery. Any business that only cultivates a few months of the years shall have the tax prorated.

Testing labs will be taxed 2% of the gross receipts. Dispensaries will be taxed at 4%, while manufacturing, processing, distribution or other cannabis-related businesses will be taxed at 2%.

The tax can be increased by the City Council through June 30, 2021, up to a maximum of $5 a square foot for facilities using some artificial light and $7 for all artificial light. Thereafter, the canopy tax can be adjusted based on the Consumer Price Index.

The maximum tax rate for dispensaries would be set at 8%, and 6% for manufacturing or distribution businesses.

An additional tax will be imposed of up to 1% of the gross receipts from high potency cannabis or cannabis products, multiplied by the percent of THC above 17%, as well as for 20% of the gross receipts from sweetened cannabis beverages.

The tax is estimated to generate approximately $250,000 a year with all funds staying local, the ordinance reads. The money would fund essential public safety services, streets, parks and other general city services. Measure N requires annual audits of how much money the city receives and how it spends it, and makes those audits public.

No argument was filed in opposition.

Measure O

On the ballot this November is a parcel tax increase to provide funding its proponents say is necessary for continued road maintenance of the Beyers Lane Community Service District.

Measure O would impose a tax increase to compensate for population growth and inflation, which the district’s Board of Directors says impacts its ability to effectively respond to ongoing road maintenance issues.

The board seeks voter approval for a district tax of $300 per parcel annually to replace the existing tax of $200 per year. It is estimated to raise $19,200 each year.

If approved by a majority of the district’s voters, the proposed increase will be used solely to maintain the roads and culverts of the district, with all funds staying in the district’s boundaries, except for insurance and audit fees.

Supporters of the measure say it is in the interest of voters to ensure the ongoing and long-term fiscal integrity of the district. They say the alternative to the increase would be reduced road maintenance while costs will continue to burgeon.

The roads in the district are mostly gravel and non-asphalt. Road maintenance involves a small tractor laying and smoothing the gravel and the use of heavy equipment grading the roads’ base and contours.

While the tractor work is done by the district members for free, the remainder is not. The board states that since the last tax increase from $100 to $200 per parcel in August 2002, the costs of doing maintenance work has gone up.

According to those in favor of the measure, the cost of fuel has increased from $1.35 per gallon in 2002 to $3.15 per gallon in 2020. The cost for grading of roads has also since increased from $1,800 to $4,000. In addition to road maintenance, the board must conduct biennial audits, and they say the associated fees have gone up from $1,500 to $2,400.

Opponents of the measure say the increase represents a financial burden to some in the district. They state many of the property owners are on a fixed income, and that to pay for this tax would be too great a cost.

The measure also notes that the parcel tax is neither an ad valorem tax on real property, nor a transaction or sales tax on the sale of property. It is an excise tax on the privilege of using district services.

If passed, the tax would continue in effect until the voters repeal or replace it.