Cheers For Direct Democracy
Every California voter interested in exercising the initiative petition rights guaranteed by our State Constitution, got a huge boost last week. On March 18th, the Fourth District of the Court of Appeal issued its decision in California Cannabis Coalition v. The City of Upland.
In California Cannabis Coalition, our judiciary once again reinforced the superiority of the initiative right over other laws and even other Constitutional provisions. A non-profit corporation sponsored and drafted a medical marijuana initiative petition, imposing a $75,000 fee on dispensaries within Upland. The City argued the fee is a general tax, that under the California Constitution Article 13C, the tax had to be submitted to voters at a regularly scheduled election instead of a special election ballot. Regardless of whether the fee is a tax under Article 13C, the Court agreed with the proponents that voters’ approval of taxes under Article 13C is limited to taxes imposed by local government; Article 13C is silent as to taxes imposed by a citizens’ initiative. Even a Constitutional provision does not supersede the initiative power. By construing the initiative power liberally in favor of the people, California Cannabis Coalition confirmed the court’s duty to jealously guard the initiative as one of the most precious rights of our democratic process.
For forty years, the members of LFAP have been guiding public and private clients in the exercise of their initiative petition rights. We have handled public facilities, land use and pension reform measures from inception through election. We are gratified to see this strongest possible judicial support of the initiative process as declared by the Court of Appeal. While the citizen’s initiative right dates back to enactment of the 1911 California Constitution, it is proving to be one of the most enduring remedies for the voter to impose and enforce any decision that requires action of a local public agency.
Ken Lounsbery, a founder of the law firm, served as City Attorney of Escondido, South Lake Tahoe and San Marcos. He has guided the enactment of numerous citizen initiative measures, beginning in 1978 with the approval by the voters of the North County Fair Shopping Center, and most recently, Proposition B, the successful Pension Reform measure in the City of San Diego. Ken guides both public and private clients through the complexities of the citizens’ initiative process.
Yana Ridge advises clients on land transactions and development, municipal law, and real property. Her transactional practiceincludes preparation of cost sharing agreements, easement agreements, purchase and sale agreements, CC&Rs and leases. Her public practice includes the initiative petition process and public agency legislation.