Last week, a group calling itself STOP—Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork—launched a ballot measure requiring voter approval for any public subsidies for a new Kings arena.

The measure would, if it reaches the ballot and is passed by voters, likely spell the end to the arena deal now working its way through City Hall. Because a lot of Sacramentans, maybe most, are deeply skeptical of the arena proposal.

But Bites is also deeply skeptical of STOP’s measure. At least as it’s written now:

“Section 1. Title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the ‘No Public Funding of Arena Act.’”

That’s functional, if not very pretty. But then there’s this:

“Section 2. Voter Approval. The city shall provide no financial support for the development of an Entertainment and Sports Complex (ESC) in the Downtown Railyards site without the approval of a majority of voters.”

That’s it. Actually, Bites added in the periods at the ends of each of those sentences. Because they were missing. Along with a lot of other stuff.

Like definitions. What is an “Entertainment and Sports Complex”? Would this new law prohibit any public money being spent to advance any sports and entertainment facility in the rail yards in the future? How about an entertainment facility like a Mondavi Center-sized concert hall? How about some public money for an amenity that includes sports fields for public use, along with a playground and community center? Is that an “entertainment and sports complex”?

What is the “Downtown Railyards site”? Does it include all of the 240 acres that we commonly think of as the rail yards? Or just the handful of parcels near the train depot now proposed as an arena site?

If backers stop calling it an “Entertainment and Sports Complex” and switch to the more truthful “Kings arena,” would it then be exempt from this ordinance? Wait, it is an ordinance that STOP is after, right? Because it doesn’t actually say.

And what does “financial support” mean? What about a different project that’s 90 percent privately funded, and only needs some help with infrastructure? Would that have to go to a public vote?

For that matter, is any public expenditure on any infrastructure in the downtown rail yards going to have to come to a public vote, if it helps to develop a sports or entertainment facility?

Would any city planner be allowed to spend even an hour of their time on an arena plan? Or would that be “financial support” requiring a public vote?

“Don’t be ridiculous, Bites,” you say. “Everybody knows what this measure means.” Maybe. But what will it mean five years from now?

The Sacramento city attorney has two weeks to vet this minimalist measure and give it a title and summary. But a full impartial analysis by the city attorney won’t happen until (and unless) STOP collects the 30,000 or so signatures it needs by the end of May. (You can find out more at www.stoparenasubsidy.com.)

That’s very hard to do with a volunteer effort. It will be even harder with a shoddy measure.

If you’ve read this column before, you know Bites supports the idea of a public vote on any multi-hundred-million-dollar arena subsidy for the Kings.

But we needn’t make it impossible for the city to pursue a better project in the future. Last week, Bites spoke briefly with James Cathcart, one of the citizens behind STOP. “We looked around and nobody else was doing it,” he said. Cathcart was for many years a consultant in the California Senate, so he’s not, in his words, “some wide-eyed know-nothing.”

But Bites is, at least on this measure. Because it leaves so many unknowns. There’s time to write a better ordinance protecting the city from boondoggles while still giving City Hall flexibility to go after a good project. Better to stop this measure and start over.