Court Ruling in Favor of Lemon Grove
November 1, 2017
Contact: Lydia Romero, City Manager
Court Ruling in Favor of Lemon Grove
Recent Initiative Rejected for Incomplete Official Title
LEMON GROVE, CA – On October 23, 2017, the San Diego Superior Court ruled that the proposed Medical Marijuana Initiative circulating in Lemon Grove was improperly circulated. The case, McKechnie vs Garcia (CASE No. 37-2017-00035975-CU-WM-CTL), approved of Lemon Grove’s rejection of improperly gathered signatures. City Clerk Susan Garcia refused to accept the petitions after she noticed it was missing approximately half of the Official Title prepared by the City Attorney required to be on the Initiative Petitions. After the Clerk’s action, Initiative Proponents filed suit to force the City to accept the incorrect initiative petitions.
The Official Title and Summary are prepared by the City Attorney to make sure that voters are given a neutral understanding of the purpose of the Initiative. The Initiative seeks to amend the Lemon Grove Municipal Code to weaken protections of licensed daycare centers by eliminating the 1,000-foot buffer zone between Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and children’s daycare centers with 12 or fewer children. Most licensed children’s daycare centers in Lemon Grove have 12 or less children. The proposed Initiative also weakens regulatory authority of the City Council over Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and allows for mobile delivery of medical marijuana throughout the City of Lemon Grove.
The Superior Court determined that leaving out portions of the Official Title violated state law. (California Elections Code Section 9203.) The supporters of the Initiative must now gather new signatures before the January 2018 deadline. The sponsor (Citizens for Public Safety and Safe Access) and Proponents of the proposed Initiative are asking for a Special Election which, according to estimates from the County Registrar of Voters, would cost Lemon Grove approximately $300,000.
The City of Lemon Grove’s response to the lawsuit included Declarations from citizens who stated that signature gatherers used misleading tactics which claimed that the proposed Initiative “protects” children to obtain signatures. However, the actual language of the Measure eliminates the 1,000-foot buffer zone between most children’s daycare centers and medical marijuana locations. It also allows medical marijuana delivery in residential neighborhoods. The court cited a 2006 California Supreme Court Case which stated “in instances in which a departure from a statutory requirement has been found to pose a realistic threat to the accuracy and integrity of the process-for example, by misleading the potential signers of an initiative petition regarding a significant feature of the proposed measure through the use of a confusing or incomplete title-courts have not been tolerant of such departures from procedural safeguards and have rejected claims that those who signed the petition could have avoided confusion by relying upon the full text of the measure included in the petition this absent all the full title on the petitions.”
The City is pleased that the Court upheld the integrity of the initiative process. The City has received numerous complaints from citizens of improper signature gathering tactics from others besides those who filed Declarations in this court case.
Citizens are advised to review any measure before deciding whether to sign. A neutral Official Title and Summary is required to be a part of every circulating Initiative Petition. At a minimum, it is recommended that the voter review the Official Title and Summary before deciding whether to sign.
Petitioners still have time to collect signatures for their pending initiative.
If you have any questions, please contact the City of Lemon Grove at 619.825.3800.