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Deadline for billboard referendum is Monday

Posted: May 4, 2014 3:25 p.m.
Updated: May 4, 2014 3:25 p.m.

After a month of signature-gathering, blocking and more than a few arrests, Monday marks the deadline that a billboard referendum petition must be turned in to the Santa Clarita City Clerk’s office.

That referendum petition seeks to force the city to either repeal an ordinance that allowed for the billboard deal or allow a public vote by the people on the issue.

The ordinance, approved by the Santa Clarita City Council in March, gave the go-ahead for a proposal from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to take down 62 billboard structures along the Metro right-of-way inside city limits in exchange for giving Metro the right to construct three, double-sided digital billboards on city-owned property off Interstate 5 and Highway 14.

Under state law, proponents of the referendum had 30 days "within which to submit the petition with the signatures from at least 10 percent of the city’s 111,697 active registered voters (11,170 signatures),” according to a Friday news release from the city.

The entire petition must be submitted to the Santa Clarita City Clerk’s office by 5:30 p.m. Monday. Signature-gatherers, most of them hired from out of town, have been collecting signatures on copies all over town.

In a press release, petition organizers said they would deliver the signatures at 9:30 a.m. Monday to city hall.

“The petitions will be presented to the City Clerk, at which time the clerk will verify that the forms are correct and she will make a preliminary determination that there are the minimum required signatures,” city spokeswoman Gail Morgan said in an interview last week.

If the minimum required number of signatures are submitted, then they will be sent to Los Angeles County for verification, according to Morgan.

That verification process could take up to 30 days, according to city officials.

If referendum supporters are able to get the required number of valid signatures, the decision will be to either rescind the ordinance or to call an election to put the ordinance up for a citywide vote.

The referendum process has been a controversial one, with several people charged with misdemeanor offenses for incidents that occurred during signature-gathering at local stores in a little more than a week, according to information from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

Allegations of petition “blockers” - people seeking to prevent citizens from signing the petitions - are being looked into by the Office of the Inspector General of Metro, according to officials.
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