Carlsbad CA— The County of San Diego Registrar of Voters has verified that a referendum to overturn the City Council’s Aug. 25 decision to approve The Agua Hedionda South Shore Specific Plan has the required number of signatures to move forward to the next step in the process. The referendum, titled “Referendum Against an Ordinance Passed by the Carlsbad City Council Ordinance No CS-283,” needed to have valid signatures from at least 6,523 registered voters, 10 percent of registered voters in Carlsbad.
The Agua Hedionda South Shore Specific Plan initiative was proposed on May 12 when Carlsbad residents Bill Dominguez, Carlton Lund and Maureen Simons submitted to the City of Carlsbad a notice of intent to circulate a petition for a citizen-led initiative. Caruso Affiliated is the primary sponsor of the plan described in the initiative. The initiative was signed by the required number of Carlsbad voters, and the City Council approved it at its Aug. 25 meeting.
On Sept. 24, the referendum supporters submitted 9,095 signature petitions to the City of Carlsbad. After conducting a raw count, the city delivered the petitions to the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters Sept. 25. The Registrar of Voters eliminated duplicate signatures, signatures that did not match the registrar’s list of people registered to vote in the City of Carlsbad and signatures from people who requested to withdraw their support. The Registrar of Voters is not required to verify all signatures submitted, only enough to meet the required number. The registrar counted 8,052 signatures before reaching the required number.
Under the California Election Code, the City Council must now consider adopting a resolution certifying the Registrar of Voters’ petition sufficiency finding, which is scheduled to take place at the Nov. 3 City Council meeting. At the Nov. 3 meeting or a future meeting the City Council will decide whether to repeal the ordinance passed Aug. 25 or put the matter on the ballot for voters to decide. If put on the ballot, the question would be whether or not to pass The Agua Hedionda South Shore Specific Plan proposed in the original initiative.
If the City Council decides to put the ordinance on the ballot, it would either be at the next regular municipal election, which is Nov. 8, 2016, or at a special election, which could be scheduled to take place not less than 88 days following the City Council’s decision to call a special election.
California Elections Code Sections 9200 to 9226 and 9235 to 9247 and Government Code Section 6253.5 are the primary laws governing the referendum process. The rules for a referendum are similar to those of a citizen-led initiative.
The County of San Diego Registrar of Voters has estimated that a stand-alone special election in Carlsbad would cost between $450,000 and $550,000. With a stand-alone election, the city would be responsible for paying 100 percent of the cost. The registrar has not provided an estimated cost for including the initiative in the regular election in November.
To qualify, initiative proponents had to get at least 9,784 signatures from registered Carlsbad voters, which is 15 percent of the total number of registered voters. On July 8 initiative proponents submitted to the city petitions with 20,479 signatures. The County of San Diego Registrar of Voters checked 12,331 signatures before confirming the required number had been obtained.
The Agua Hedionda South Shore Specific Plan proposes a comprehensive plan for future land uses on a 203.4 acre property east of I-5, between the south shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon and Cannon Road.
The 48 acres of land just east of I-5 on Cannon Road has an existing General Plan land use designation of visitor commercial , meaning retail shops, restaurants, hotels and other similar visitor-serving commercial uses are allowed. The approximately 155 acres east of that parcel is designated as permanent open space. The proposed initiative would allow visitor-serving retail development on about half of the 48 acre parcel where it is allowed and add the other half to the existing open space land. It would also make the open space land available for public use.
Although referenda are not required to identify sponsors, Citizens for North County, a 501(c) 4 organization, submitted a “statement of organization” on Sept. 15. This Fair Political Practices Commission form is a requirement for groups intending to raise money for political purposes.
The initiative and related public documents are available at www.carlsbadca.gov/cityhall/clerk/initiative.asp and at the City Clerk’s Office, 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive.