Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies arrested two men on a trespassing charge Thursday, the latest in a series of incidents at Santa Clarita shopping centers, officials said.
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Timothy Middleton, 27, of Hillsboro, Missouri, and Joshua Morrison, 23, of Anaheim Hills, were arrested on a trespassing charge shortly after 5 p.m., said Lt. Randy Harris of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
“It was a citizen’s arrest made by the management of Food For Less for blocking the access to the store,” Harris said.
The arrests Thursday follow a string of disputes throughout the Santa Clarita Valley this week.
Related article: Santa Clarita-Metro Billboard Deal Draws Referendum, Arguments
A group of Santa Clarita residents joined up with the California State Outdoor Advertising Association, which is seeking a referendum to slow the city’s effort with Metro to build electronic billboards.
A group of “blockers” have also been paid to discourage signature-gatherers.
It was not clear from the preliminary report whether the suspects were involved in the effort to gather signatures or the attempts to stop the collection of signatures, Harris said.
He did confirm deputies have been called to various Santa Clarita Valley shopping areas over the last week.
“There have been several calls from both sides over the last several days,” Harris said.
The men were being cited, and expected to be released after receiving a court date.
The disputes have centered around a controversial billboard proposal the city of Santa Clarita would like to enter into with Metro officials who brought the deal to the city.
Related article: Santa Clarita City Council OKs Metro Billboard Deal In 3-1 Vote
Through the deal, the city would see 118 billboards on Metro property removed in exchange for six large electronic billboards, one alongside Interstate 5 and two near Highway 14.
The billboard deal was approved 3-1 by Santa Clarita City Council, with Councilman TimBen Boydston as the lone vote against. Mayor Laurene Weste abstained.
The CSOAA budgeted approximately $20,000 to $30,000 to try and slow the billboard deal, according to a CSOAA executive.
They’ve taken up a referendum seeking to either have the city reconsider a deal, or to rescind the billboard deal and put it on a ballot for Santa Clarita voters.
The supporters of the referendum have 30 days to acquire the signatures of approximately 12,000 voters, a countdown that started in the first week of April, said Jim Cassie, executive director of the CSOAA.
To a certain extent, opponents of the billboard deal already experienced a measure of success.
Related article: Metro Billboard Vote Gets Delayed By MTA Due To Referendum
Metro’s Executive Committee recommended the MTA hold off on approving the Metro billboard deal the city already approved last week. This week, Metro was expected to approve the deal, but is now awaiting the outcome of the referendum. A recommendation from the Executive Committee kept the deal’s approval off Metro’s agenda.
Boydston spoke at the meeting Executive Committee last week, as a resident, against the Metro billboard deal, and City Councilman Bob Kellar spoke in favor.
This week, Boydston was in front of Metro again with several members of Citizens Against Billboard Blight, asking if county officials would do something to stop the referendum-blockers.
Santa Clarita City Attorney Joe Montes did not return a call of comment late Thursday seeking clarification on whether the blockers would be considered in violation of California Election Code 18620.
“We’ll see what happens with the petition,” said Michael Cano, the transportation deputy with Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich’s office, after the committee’s decision last week. “If (the referendum is successful), either the city has to rescind its action, or there has to be a vote put to the people so it would alter the course of the program that would put it out of the hands of the county board.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News