FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Back in 2018 Fresno residents voted on Measure P. The p stands for parks.
Voters were told that if the measure passed the city’s sales tax would increase an additional three-eights of a cent.
The roughly $40 million generated annually for the next 30 years would go to city parks, recreation, streets, and arts.
Voters were also told that because Measure P is a tax hike it needed to pass by a two-thirds vote.
But on Thursday, two years after the election California’s Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled that Measure P only needed to pass by a simple majority. A much lower standard.
Measure P captured about 52% of the vote.
“The city council will be reviewing in our first meeting in 2021–On Jan. 7. So I look forward to having a discussion in terms of the next steps,” said Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria.
Soria, a supporter of Measure P, then and now, applauds the ruling, saying Measure P is the right thing for Fresno.
“Measure P was about investing in our community and making sure that we have a park system that we’re proud of .. Similarly to what we’ve done with our local zoo,” said Soria.
But Fresno businessman Michael Der Manouel Jr. who was against Measure P says this week’s court ruling is fundamentally unfair.
“It’s simply a question of fairness. And now a couple of years after the election, we find out the rules are entirely different retroactively,” said Der Manouel.
He maintains, had the “NO” on Measure P committee known the threshold was only 50% plus one, they would have run a different campaign.
Others say Measure P is too expensive. Almost $2 billion over the next 30 years with no money for police, fire, or public service.
Der Manouel also criticized Mayor Lee Brand and Mayor-Elect Jerry Dyer for not immediately taking steps to appeal the ruling to the state supreme court. Both men – actively campaigned against Measure P.