Fremont City

Staff Report

2012; ACTION TO PLACE INITIATIVE ON BALLOT OF NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION OR ADOPT INITIATIVE IN UNALTERED FORM – Accept Certification of Sufficiency of the Initiative Petition by the Registrar of Voters; Take Action to Either Place the Initiative on the Ballot of the November 6, 2012, General Election or Adopt Initiative in Unaltered Form


Department:City Clerk's OfficeSponsors:

Item Discussion

Executive Summary: A petition was circulated for a citizen-initiated ordinance entitled “The Protect Fremont Private Open Space Initiative of 2012”. The petition was submitted to the City Clerk’s Office on May 29, 2012; a prima facie count was done by the Clerk’s Office; and the petition was then sent to the County Registrar of Voters to verify the sufficiency of the petition. This report provides Council with information about the sufficiency of the petition. The Council will then have two options: to adopt the initiative in an unaltered form, or to place the matter on the ballot for the November 6, 2012 general election.



BACKGROUND: On March 22, 2012, the proponents of the Protect Fremont Private Open Space Initiative published the Notice of Intention to circulate the petition.  On May 29, 2012, the proponents delivered the petition to the City Elections Official. Staff conducted an unofficial count of the petition and determined the total number of signatures contained in the petition exceeded the minimum number required to qualify the measure for the ballot.  The total number of signatures required is 9,336, which represents 10% of the registered voters in the City of Fremont at the time the Notice of Intention for the initiative was published


The Elections Official contracted with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to verify the sufficiency of the signatures using the statistical random sampling process as prescribed in Elections Code 9115. The results of that sampling of 500 signatures showed that the petition did not qualify, and thus a 100% count was completed by the Registrar of Voters.  The results of this 100% signature verification showed that the initiative qualified for the November ballot with 9,969 signatures.


ANALYSIS/DISCUSSION:  On July 10, 2012, the City received written notice from the Registrar of Voters that the petition qualified for the November 6, 2012 ballot. Elections Code Section 9114 requires the Elections Official to present the certification of sufficiency of the petition to the City Council at its next regular meeting. In addition, the Council, per Election Code Section 9215, must do one of the following:  (a) adopt the ordinance, without alteration; or (b) submit the ordinance, without alteration, to the voters at the next regular municipal election. 


In the event the Council elects to adopt the ordinance, it must do so at the time the certification is presented, or within 10 days after it is presented. Staff has prepared the ordinance to allow the Council to adopt the ordinance at this meeting. If adopted, the ordinance will go into effect 10 days from July 17. 


In the event that the Council wishes to place the measure on the ballot, a resolution is required to:


·         Call for the election and approving the ballot question; 

·         Request consolidation of the election with the Statewide and Municipal General Elections being conducted by the County of Alameda on November 6, 2012;

·         Direct the City Attorney to prepare an impartial analysis of the City’s measure;


Calling of the Election

The California Elections Code provides that the Council shall call and order a General Municipal Election for the purpose of placing a ballot initiative on the November Ballot.


Consolidating the Elections

The Elections Code provides that the City Council may, by resolution, request that the Board of Supervisors of the County permit the County Elections Official to render specified services to the City for the conduct of an election, and that the City will reimburse the County for services performed. The City Council adopted Resolution No. 2012-31 on June 12, 2012, calling and giving notice of a General Municipal Election to be held on November 6, 2012, requesting the Board of Supervisors of the County of Alameda to consolidate the general municipal election with the general election to be held on that date, and requesting certain services of the Registrar of Voters, as well as other election-related matters.

This action would add the ballot initiative to the services requested.


Ballot Question

The City Council may set forth the wording of the ballot question (also known as the “ballot label”) as it is to appear on the ballot. Election Code 9051 requires that the question contain no more than 75 words, be a condensed version of the ballot title and summary, include the financial impact, and be followed by the words, “Yes” and “No”. The following ballot question, which is 75 words in length, has been drafted for Council consideration: 







Shall an ordinance be adopted by the voters of the City of Fremont to amend the General Plan to provide that land designated or zoned as "Private Open Space" may only be changed to another land use upon a majority vote of the electors of the city at a regular municipal election, or upon a unanimous finding by the city council that failure to change the land use would constitute a governmental taking of private property?








City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis

In accordance with Elections Code 9280, it is recommended that the City Council direct the City Attorney to prepare an impartial analysis of the proposed measure and submit it to the City Clerk by no later than July 24, 2012. A copy of the City Attorney’s impartial analysis will be included in the Voter Information Guide.


Written Arguments

For a voter initiative, the Elections Code reserves the right to submit a written argument in favor of the measure to the proponent. The Elections Code also provides that upon authorization by the City Council, an argument against the measure may be prepared and signed by the City Council or by one or more Councilmembers, if the Council opposes it. If either the proponents or the Council decline to submit a proposed argument, the City Clerk may accept arguments from any individual voter who is eligible to vote on the measure, or bona fide associations of citizens, or any combination of voters and associations, may file a written argument for or against the measure. The City Clerk has tentatively set the deadline for submitting written arguments for August 6, 2012. 


Rebuttal Arguments

On June 12, 2012, the City Council, by resolution, authorized the acceptance of rebuttal arguments. The City Clerk shall set the deadline for submitting rebuttal arguments for August 16, 2012. 


Printing the Full Text of the Proposed Ordinance in the Voter Information Guide

The Elections Code does not require that the City print the entire proposed ordinance in the Voter Information Guide; however, given that the proposed ordinance is not lengthy, it is recommended that the full text be printed, for greater transparency and in order to fully inform voters of the nature of the measure. 


Public Examination Period

Elections Code 9295 provides that the City Clerk shall allow a 10-calendar-day public examination period immediately following the filing deadline for submission of ballot materials (the City Attorney's impartial analysis and written arguments). During that 10-calendar-day period, any Fremont voter or the City Clerk, as the Elections Official, may seek court action to require any or all such materials be amended or deleted. The above dates allow for this 10-calendar-day period.  


FISCAL IMPACT:  At present, the cost of placing an initiative on the November ballot is estimated to be between $40,000 and $50,000.  This cost is based on actual costs of past initiatives and the fact that any new initiative must be translated into two additional languages since the last ballot initiative in Fremont.




Document Comments



1.              Accept the Registrar of Voters Certification of Sufficiency of Petition for the Protect Fremont Private Open Space Initiative of 2012.

2.              Adopt the ordinance, without alteration, and direct that it be published in accordance with state law; or

3.              Submit the ordinance, without alteration, to the voters on November 6, 2012, by adopting a resolution that:         

a.              Calls and gives notice of an election for the purpose of submitting the ballot measure to the voters for their approval or rejection; and further requests that the Board of Supervisors of the County of Alameda consolidate the special election with the Statewide General Election to be held on November 6, 2012;

b.              Approves or modifies, as appropriate, the ballot question; and

c.              Directs the City Attorney to prepare an impartial analysis for the measure.