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Judge rules Barrio Logan referendum should be on the ballot

Judge admitted petition drive was based on lies, however, said not enough to keep it off ballot.

It's settled. The Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association's petition drive to overturn the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update was steeped in lies and false representations, ruled Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp at today's court hearing. Yet, despite misleading those who signed the referendum, Trapp ruled that it wasn't enough to delay putting it before voters on June 3.

In her judgement, Trapp found that the association purposely provided false information to signature gatherers, claiming the Navy would leave San Diego in addition to 46,000 jobs and $14 billion dollars, if the community plan was approved. This despite passionate pleas from attorney for the Environmental Health Coalition, Marco Gonzalez.

"The court agrees that 50,000 voters were duped into signing something," Gonzalez told the judge, before asking that she order the city to wait until November to put it on the ballot, after all the details could be fleshed out.

Trapp wasn't convinced.

"[Environmental Health Coalition] has met its burden to show the likelihood of prevailing on its claim that at least one of the three statement made by [the] association was misleading," read Trapp's judgement. "The statement was not an opinion based upon the statements within the maritime report. nonetheless, this evidence does not meet the high standard set forth [in previous court cases]."

With it being the final day for the ballot measures to be placed on the ballot, community members in favor of the new zoning regulations have little recourse asides from trying to defeat the item through public opinion.

The decision is not only costly for those residents of Barrio Logan whose neighbors are include machine shops and loading docks, it will also set the City back more than $1 million dollars to place the item on the ballot. The $1 million is just a drop in the bucket when factoring in the years it took to draft the community plan update.

Council approved the update in September of last year. Some of which went on record and urged the judge to invalidate the signatures.

"I believe this particular referendary process to revoke the approved plan was an abuse of voters trust in open and direct democracy," said council president Todd Gloria in a March 28 declaration. "The preliminary injunction is appropriate at this time as it would save San Diego taxpayers the costs associated with putting these measures on the June ballot."

But it wasn't the first time Gloria went on the record to support the community plan update. It also wasn't the first time that his support was ignored. During a council hearing in December Gloria directed City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to defend council's decision and join with the Environmental Health Coalition to defeat the referendum in court. Goldsmith, of course, took a different tact.

Having already met with the association's representative Chris Wahl in the final days of the signature drive, Goldsmith ordered his attorneys to remain neutral. The City's legal position, however, appeared anything but neutral.

On March 19, Deputy City Attorney Kristin Zlotnik defended the referendary process regardless of its accuracy.

"There is not requirement under the Municipal Code, however, for the City Clerk to verify or make a determination in regard to the accuracy of the statement of reasons. Rather, the clerk need only determine whether the statement is present and prepared in accordance with [the code]."

The judgment means little, if anything, can be done to keep the item from the ballot.

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It's settled. The Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association's petition drive to overturn the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update was steeped in lies and false representations, ruled Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp at today's court hearing. Yet, despite misleading those who signed the referendum, Trapp ruled that it wasn't enough to delay putting it before voters on June 3.

In her judgement, Trapp found that the association purposely provided false information to signature gatherers, claiming the Navy would leave San Diego in addition to 46,000 jobs and $14 billion dollars, if the community plan was approved. This despite passionate pleas from attorney for the Environmental Health Coalition, Marco Gonzalez.

"The court agrees that 50,000 voters were duped into signing something," Gonzalez told the judge, before asking that she order the city to wait until November to put it on the ballot, after all the details could be fleshed out.

Trapp wasn't convinced.

"[Environmental Health Coalition] has met its burden to show the likelihood of prevailing on its claim that at least one of the three statement made by [the] association was misleading," read Trapp's judgement. "The statement was not an opinion based upon the statements within the maritime report. nonetheless, this evidence does not meet the high standard set forth [in previous court cases]."

With it being the final day for the ballot measures to be placed on the ballot, community members in favor of the new zoning regulations have little recourse asides from trying to defeat the item through public opinion.

The decision is not only costly for those residents of Barrio Logan whose neighbors are include machine shops and loading docks, it will also set the City back more than $1 million dollars to place the item on the ballot. The $1 million is just a drop in the bucket when factoring in the years it took to draft the community plan update.

Council approved the update in September of last year. Some of which went on record and urged the judge to invalidate the signatures.

"I believe this particular referendary process to revoke the approved plan was an abuse of voters trust in open and direct democracy," said council president Todd Gloria in a March 28 declaration. "The preliminary injunction is appropriate at this time as it would save San Diego taxpayers the costs associated with putting these measures on the June ballot."

But it wasn't the first time Gloria went on the record to support the community plan update. It also wasn't the first time that his support was ignored. During a council hearing in December Gloria directed City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to defend council's decision and join with the Environmental Health Coalition to defeat the referendum in court. Goldsmith, of course, took a different tact.

Having already met with the association's representative Chris Wahl in the final days of the signature drive, Goldsmith ordered his attorneys to remain neutral. The City's legal position, however, appeared anything but neutral.

On March 19, Deputy City Attorney Kristin Zlotnik defended the referendary process regardless of its accuracy.

"There is not requirement under the Municipal Code, however, for the City Clerk to verify or make a determination in regard to the accuracy of the statement of reasons. Rather, the clerk need only determine whether the statement is present and prepared in accordance with [the code]."

The judgment means little, if anything, can be done to keep the item from the ballot.

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Comments
1

Jan Goldsmith was a tool of downtown business interests long before he became City Attorney. In this case CA Goldsmith took a different tack -- not "tact' -- and refused to defend the integrity of Barrio Logan's community plan to protect its people's health and welfare against misrepresentation by heavy industry polluters such as NASSCO on the harbor side of Barrio Logan.

Now, thanks to Judge Trapp's terrible decision, the taxpayers will have to sustain an expensive special election, founded on industry lies and brought forward by those commercial heavyweights who intend to overturn a community's right to plan for its own health and well-being.

Will the people of San Diego recognize the importance of this vote to their own communities' autonomy? Will the electorate vote to support the people of Barrio Logan? The very fact that it is a special election means there will be low voter turnout. And the big guns will maintain their lying claims, publicized by their big bucks, that this is about "saving jobs." It's a pity Judge Trapp just couldn't find a way to shut down this travesty of justice.

April 5, 2014

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