Thursday, February 9, 2006
Anti-sprawl activists took another hit at last week’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting when the supes declined to put a general plan initiative on the June ballot.
After receiving a 16-page letter from Rutan & Tucker, an Orange County-based law firm, the supervisors decided to pursue another study: an independent analysis of the initiative that will be presented to the board on Feb. 28. At that time, supervisors will decide whether to place the measure on the ballot.
The letter, dated Jan. 25, says Rutan & Tucker represents “a consortium of Monterey County landowners, voters, and civil rights groups.” No one seems to know who this consortium is.
The letter argues that the general plan initiative is invalid, and urges the county “to cease processing the initiative petition immediately.”
LandWatch’s Chris Fitz is nonplussed. “The bottom line here is that they seem to be pretty desperate,” Fitz says. “We’ve followed the law.”
The trouble is, Fitz doesn’t know who “they” are. Nor does County Counsel Charles McKee. And the usual suspects—pro-growth types like Common Ground Executive Director Tom Carvey who have threatened to sue the County in the past, should the supervisors adopt a slow-growth plan—say they don’t know who hired Rutan & Tucker, either.
The letter alleges that the initiative “violates numerous binding and mandatory provisions of State law” because the initiative wasn’t printed or circulated in Spanish. The letter specifically cited the court case Padilla v. Lever.
Padilla also came up at the Jan. 24 County Supervisors’ meeting, when Carlos Ramos, citing Padilla, accused Rancho San Juan opponents of breaking the law by not translating their referendum into Spanish.
Because Padilla dealt with a recall petition, however, many attorneys say it is unlikely that the ruling would extend to initiatives and referenda. One such attorney is Michael Houston, an associate at Rutan & Tucker. Two days after the firm mailed the 16-page letter, arguing that the general plan initiative violated Padilla, Houston blogged about the “absurdity” of the Padilla decision.
“At some point this insanity must end,” he wrote, on FlashReport.org. “It is ludicrous to think that a privately prepared initiative or referendum petitions must be prepared in multiple languages.”