"I don't recall this ever happening."~ Michael Vu, San Diego County Registrar of Voters
County Registrar Michael Vu has seen a lot in his time as County Registrar, but when considering the possibility that the SoccerCity and SDSU West initiatives might be removed from the November General election ballot after each gathered enough valid signatures and were directed to be placed on the ballot by the San Diego City Council, even Vu was left to ponder the unique nature of this.
IVN San Diego spoke with Vu about this remarkable turn and being named a defendant along with City Clerk Liz Maland in the complaint filed by the City Attorney's office on behalf of Cybele Thompson, the Director of the City of San Diego's Real Estate Division.
ON BEING NAMED IN LAWSUIT
"Our (County Registrar of Voters) involvement in this lawsuit is purely from an administrative point of view and whether the measures are going to be placed on the ballot or not. I have not seen or read the actual lawsuit from the City Attorney's office, I understand County Counsel has received the lawsuit. We just need to know whether it's going to be on the ballot or not, and we'll let the courts decide based on the arguments made. At this point we're operating that it will be on the ballot because the City Council passed the measure to place the initiative measure on the ballot and that's what we're operating under."
IS THIS PROCESS UNPRECEDENTED?
"I'd have to go back and look at history but I haven't seen it in my time here at the county. I can't recall it ever happening. I don't want to say it's never happened, but it would certainly be a rare occurrence if it has happened. Particularly when our office has been contacted and told this item is going to be on the ballot and the City Council has passed and placed it on the ballot and for them to just be removed is extraordinary."
BOTH MEASURES ON PERILOUS GROUND?
Why now? It's a question that's being asked in political and business circles across town as these initiatives have been in the public purview for over a year.
In the filing City Attorney Mara Elliott was quoted,“By seeking pre-election guidance from the courts, the City hopes to avoid a situation where voters act on measures that are later found to be legally invalid. Even if the court finds no problems with the measures, it may narrow post-election issues, which will save taxpayer money and potentially expedite City actions to implement a successful measure.”
FRIENDS OF SDSU RESPOND
IVN San Diego has reached out to SoccerCity and the Friends of SDSU for comment on the new developments.
Friends of SDSU responded with the following statement:
“The SDSU West initiative is consistent with California state law and the San Diego City Charter. Prior to being finalized, the Friends of SDSU provided the City Attorney with a draft of the initiative, and then met with her and her senior staff. Based on that meeting, Friends of SDSU revised our initiative to address questions asked by the City Attorney.
In her lawsuit, the City Attorney claims our initiative impermissibly directs the City to sell the stadium site to San Diego State University. However, the first finding in our initiative clearly states, “…the City shall sell such property to SDSU in accordance with the City Charter, but only if such sale is in compliance with the conditions herein established.” The first condition listed is “Such sale shall be at such price and upon such terms as the Council shall deem to be fair and equitable and in the public interest…”
The SDSU West initiative is the only initiative that empowers the City of San Diego, protects taxpayers and requires a full environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.”
SoccerCity representatives have yet to respond to our inquiries. They have stated they will make a statement next week.