S.F. court shoots down land-use referendum

A petition that would place a decision before San Francisco voters to turn over about 1,400 acres to a city agency is not valid because it did not include sufficient background documents, according to a San Francisco Superior Court decision.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Patrick Mahoney appeared to side with San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Tuesday in denying the validity of a referendum petition that called for a citywide vote on a 2006 ordinance placing the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency in control of Candlestick Point and the Hunters’ Point Shipyard. An ambitious development of residential and commercial space as well as a new stadium are slated for the site.

In September 2006, Herrera refused to allow the referendum on the ballot, even though it had collected more than the required 21,615 signatures. He asserted that the petition’s organizers had not attached sufficient documentation for signatories to know what they were endorsing.

The petition included a copy of the San Francisco resolution that gave the redevelopment agency control of the land, but it did not include supporting documents referred to within the resolution. Those documents, according to the resolution, are on file with the city clerk.

“We don’t think the attachments were necessary under the law. The text meant just the textof the ordinance, which was attached,” said Michael Grob, an attorney for the Defend Bayview Hunters Point Committee, which sued The City in December to overturn Herrera’s decision.

In his opinion Tuesday, Mahoney wrote that “without including a plan, a voter did not know the boundaries of the project that was expanding from 137 acres to 1,361 additional acres.”

“The court recognized that omission of the redevelopment plan by signature gatherers unlawfully deprived voters of their right to know what the ordinance sought to accomplish,” Herrera said in a statement Tuesday.

Activists now have the option to appeal the decision, but they may not recirculate the referendum petition, Herrera’s spokesman Matt Dorsey said Tuesday. Grob said he and his client had not decided on whether to appeal the decision.

amartin@examiner.com

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