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Gloria pushes for petition reforms

In the wake of three petition drives that blocked or helped overturn City Council ordinances over the past two years, San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria this afternoon will propose new restrictions on the petition process, aimed at requiring more public disclosure of who is financing the petition-gathering process.

At a special session of the City Council, meeting as a “committee of the whole,” Gloria will propose a package of regulations that require that petition advertisements identify the top two donors contributing to the drive; impose tighter deadlines for publicly reporting petition campaign contributions and expenses; and revamp the rules on how petitions are formatted

Over the past two years, San Diego’s shipyards sponsored a petition drive and subsequent ballot initiative that overturned a rezoning plan for Barrio Logan; real estate developers sponsored a petition drive that blocked and led to the subsequent modification of a hike in a fee to support affordable housing; and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, with heavy backing from the restaurant and hotel industry, postponed a minimum wage increase until at least June 2016, when it will appear on the ballot.

Gloria, who had strongly supported each of the measures that were blocked by the petitions, has long objected to the tactics of the petition-gatherers. During the minimum wage campaign drive, for instance, some petition-gatherers were videotaped telling the public that the initiative was meant to raise the minimum wage instead of to halt a council-backed wage hike.

“Referendums are meant to be a legitimate check and balance by the people and not means for special interests to buy results that could not be attained through the public legislative process,” he said.

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