Trial Court Rules in Cupertino's Favor, Upholding Rejection of Petition Sections for North DeAnza Gateway Initiative
CUPERTINO, CA – On Friday, March 3, 2017 the trial court ruled in favor of the City of Cupertino (“City”) by denying the Petition for Writ of Mandate filed in Reed Sparks, Ruby Elbogen, and William Hausmen (“Petitioners”) v. Grace Schmidt, et al., Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 16CV301471. Petitioners challenged the City Clerk's rejection of 2,048 petition sections relating to the North DeAnza Gateway Initiative ("Initiative").
The Initiative proposed to amend the zoning and height restrictions in the City’s General Plan for construction of a hotel with 156 additional rooms at the property, which currently contains the 126-room Cupertino Inn and the Goodyear Auto Service Center.
The court found that the petition sections did not technically comply with Elections Code sections 9201 and 9203(b) because the City Attorney’s ballot title and summary was not included “above the text of the proposed measure” on the first page of each petition section.
The court concluded that this failure was a significant defect. The court stated that the title and summary “must be prominently included in the circulated petition to provide the voters whose signatures are sought with an accurate and objective petition” and “an accurate and objective description of the general matter of the initiative and its main points.” “Primarily … (this) … reduces the risk that voters will be misled … by making available to them a neutral explanation of the measure.”
In denying the petition, the court concluded that Petitioners did not simply omit the City Attorney’s neutral explanation of the Initiative on the first page of each petition section. Instead, Petitioners included their arguments in support of the measure, which were clearly not neutral.