Santa Clarita officials will have to decide Tuesday what the plan is for a controversial billboard deal with Metro and AllVision at the next City Council meeting.
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Santa Clarita officials approved a plan with Metro and AllVision that would put three large, two-sided electronic signs next to Santa Clarita Valley freeways, in exchange for Metro taking down billboards on Metro-controlled propertythroughout the city.
Opponents of the effort, funded in part by a billboard lobbying group that wanted to see an open-bidding process for any new billboard deal, successfully created a referendum that put those plans on hold.
For how long is, up to Santa Clarita City Council members Tuesday.
Related article: County Certifies Signatures For Santa Clarita Billboard Referendum
The city has been trying to take down the majority of billboards within city limits for decades, said Gail Morgan, city of Santa Clarita spokeswoman.
Part of the city’s effort to remove billboards includes the city’s recent $1.3 million buyout of Edwards Outdoor Advertising, which owned 47 billboard faces in Santa Clarita.
However, Los Angeles County officials received more than 16,000 signatures in opposition to the city’s plan to put up three giant electronic billboards in Santa Clarita. Of those, 11,370 were deemed sufficient, which exceeded the 11,170-signature threshold needed to pass the referendum.
The Santa Clarita-Metro-AllVision deal called for three 50-year leases on the new electronic billboards could generate up to a combined $200 million over the entirety of the 50-year span, with the city expected to receive about $400,000-600,000 each year, according to estimates. The city also receives a guarantee of a small portion of peak revenue advertising space for Santa Clarita officials to promote civic concerns, issues and causes.
Related article: Santa Clarita City Council OKs Metro Billboard Deal In 3-1 Vote
The city of Santa Clarita created a website in December to promote the deal; however, some including City Councilman TimBen Boydston, felt the city was not being totally up front with residents.
A staff recommendation suggests City Council members draft accept the results of the referendum and take one of three actions.
The city could repeal the ordinance with a vote; call a special election Nov. 4 for a cost of $208,000; or it could hold a special election on another date for a cost of about $224,000, according to the city’s agenda.
There are several decisions that could be necessitated by City Council actions, according to the agenda.
Decisions to be made if Santa Clarita City Council decides to submit ordinance to the voters:
When to hold the election:
If the City Council decides to submit the Ordinance to the voters, the first decision that needs to be made is when that election would take place. The council is required to hold the election not less than 88 days after the date of the order of election or order of special election.
The city may choose to have the election consolidated with the county at its general election held on November 4, 2014. County staff stated that they support consolidation of the City’s measure with the general election. According to the County, the estimated cost for such election has been approximated at $208,000. If the Council desires to consolidate its election with the County, that request must be filed with the Board of Supervisors by 5:00 pm on August 8, 2014.
The dates for a non-County consolidated special election are on any Tuesday, provided that there is neither a State holiday the day before, the day of or the day after that Tuesday. The earliest a Special Election could be held would be after 88 days from the adoption of the resolution ordering the election. If a resolution is adopted this evening, that date would fall on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.
The Council could then pick any Tuesday thereafter provided it does not conflict with a State holiday as described above. The Council could also choose the date of the City’s next municipal election (April 12, 2016). The cost for a nonconsolidated special election is estimated to be $224,000.
City Attorney Preparation of Impartial Analysis
If the City Council decides to submit the Ordinance to the voters, the Elections Code provides that the City Council may direct the City Attorney to prepare an impartial analysis of the Ordinance. The impartial analysis must show the effect of the measure on the existing law and the operation of the Ordinance. The analysis must include a statement indicating whether the measure was placed on the ballot by a petition signed by the requisite number of voters or by the City Council. The analysis is to be printed preceding the argument for and against the measure and shall not exceed 500 words in length.
The resolutions have been drafted providing that the City Attorney is authorized to prepare the impartial analysis. If the Council does not want an impartial analysis to be prepared, the Council should include that direction as part of the motion to approve the election resolution.
Ballot Arguments Concerning the Ordinance:
Arguments for and against the measure are permitted by the Elections Code. The Council must decide who will author the argument in favor of the Ordinance. If the Council as a whole is to author the argument in favor of the Ordinance, the Council will have to approve the text of the argument at a future meeting. Another option is that a subcommittee of Council members could be appointed to prepare the statement in favor of the Ordinance. ( If the Council does not wish to submit the argument in favor of the Ordinance, then other parties can submit arguments (see discussion concerning priorities below).
The council must also decide whether it wants to allow rebuttal arguments to be submitted. If the council decides to allow rebuttals, when the arguments for and against the Ordinance are submitted, the City Clerk will provide copies of those to the opposing side for their use in drafting rebuttals.
The resolutions have been drafted to provide that rebuttals will be permitted. If the council does not wish to allow rebuttals, or if the council wishes to indicate whether the council or some of its members will author the argument in favor of the Ordinance, that direction should be included as part of any motion to adopt the resolution calling the election.
Priority of Arguments if more than one argument submitted:
The Elections Code provides that if more than one argument for or more than one argument against any city measure is submitted to the City Clerk, the City Clerk shall select one of the arguments in favor and one of the arguments against the measure. In selecting the argument the Elections Code sets the preference and priority as follows:
1. The legislative body, or member or members of the legislative body authorized by that body.
2.The individual voter, or bona fide association of citizens, or combination of voters and associations, who are the bona fide sponsors or proponents of the measure.
3.Bona fide associations of citizens.
4.Individual voters who are eligible to vote on the measure.
If the Council does not choose to submit an argument in favor of the Ordinance and two arguments are submitted from the same category, staff would suggest that the Council direct the City Clerk to utilize a method to randomly select which argument will be selected for the ballot. This same process can be followed for arguments submitted against the Ordinance.
Potential Challenge to Analysis or Ballot Arguments
Arguments for and against, rebuttals and the City Attorney impartial analysis are all subject to challenge alleging that they are false or misleading (§ 9295). The Elections code provides for a very short challenge period, so staff would recommend that if the City authors the arguments in favor of the ordinance, or if the Council directs an impartial analysis be prepared, that the Council also authorize defense of any actions brought pursuant to section 9295 so that a special meeting does not have to be called if such an action is filed.
The resolutions have been drafted to provide that the City Attorney is authorized to defend any challenges to City authored ballot arguments and the impartial analysis. If the Council does not wish to provide that authorization, the motion to approve the resolution should so indicate.
Ballot Measure Language
Included with the resolution submitting the Ordinance to the voters will be the language of the ballot measure question being voted on. The elections code provides that the form of the question is “Shall Ordinance (stating the nature thereof, including any identifying number or title) be adopted?”
Staff has included in the resolutions calling the election the title of the Ordinance that was adopted by the City Council and that was included in the referendum petitions as the question:
Shall Ordinance No. 14-02 adopting a Development Agreement with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) for the removal of 62 Off-Site Advertising structures, and construction and operation of three digital billboards adjacent to the Interstate 5 and State Route 14 freeways be adopted?
Should the Council wish to alter the language of the question, such modifications should be included in any motion to adopt a resolution calling the election.
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Source: Santa Clarita News