Initiative Backers Sue Upland

(March 20) The sponsors of the initiative to allow three marijuana dispensaries to operate in Upland filed a lawsuit against the city on Thursday and followed that lawsuit up with a motion today, Friday March 20, in which they are seeking to have that initiative put on the ballot for a special election in June.
Those sponsors gathered the signatures of more than 15 percent of the city’s registered voters on the petitions that were certified by the county register of voters. But the city, following city attorney Richard Adams’ advice, seized on language in the initiative calling for levying a $75,000 fee on each dispensary operator, and said that the California Constitution requires that all new taxes be approved by voters at a general election. Calling the $75,000 fee a tax, the city council voted 3-2 to hold off on the initiative election until November 2016, the next general municipal election in Upland.
But Santa Monica-based attorney Roger Diamond, who represents the initiative proponents, said “The city misapplied Article 13c2 of the California Constitution, which applies only to initiatives self initiated by a government entity and not the initiative process endorsed by voters.”
Diamond filed a lawsuit in San Bernardino Superior Court, which has been routed to Department S-36 which he said calls for “the signers of the initiative to receive the full benefit of California law, which requires that the initiative be put on the ballot within 88 to 105 days of the certification of the signatures.”
The city did not have the legal option to postpone the election until next year, Diamond said, and he had followed the March 19 filing for a peremptory writ with a motion today calling upon the judge to order the city to conduct the election within the time specified by law.
Diamond said he had encountered some difficulty in that there are full calendars in each of the court divisions in San Bernardino, such that the matter has not been scheduled for an expeditious hearing yet. Ideally, Diamond said, the matter should be heard by April 21, so special election arrangements can be carried out by the registrar of voters in a timely manner. He said that despite the crowded court calendars, he believes the matter will be scheduled for a hearing in time, since by California law matters pertaining to election code issues are to be given scheduling preference.

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