Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Signatures approved, will there be a vote?

TomJohnson

Earlier this week the Registrar of Voters office for the County of Orange found the signatures submitted for the referendum petition calling for an election on the proposed Museum House project as sufficient pursuant to California Elections Code.

Line in the Sand (LIS), a political action committee, is opposed to the Museum House project for a variety of reasons and gathered signatures prior to the holidays attempting to force the issue to a vote of the people.

LIS submitted 13,788 signatures at the conclusion of their effort needing only 5,619 to qualify. The Registrar was able to approve their petition after reviewing 6,584 of the submitted signatures, or less than half.

So, where do we go from here?

The next City Council meeting is Tuesday, Feb 14 at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center. The council could decide at that point on a couple of different moves: 1) They could re-vote on the issue of the Museum House and rescind their previous approval or 2) They could accept the petition and call for an election. 

Sources close to the issue tell me that they’re expecting the Council to rescind their earlier vote of approval. I’ve also heard that the developer, Bill Witte of Related Companies, is upset at all the negative publicity the issue has stirred up.

If the Council rescinds their vote, could Witte come back at a later date with a version 2? Possibly.

But here’s some other food for thought. Let’s say the Council continues toward an election, what backlash would that have on current council people? Then there’s the cost of the election. Remember, the Council previously required a petition document requiring more than 1,100 pages in size. Technically, that document could be required to be sent to all voters costing the City potentially in excess of $2 million. 

If you doubt the costs, know that this Petition to date has cost LIS $46,506 in printing alone and which translated to some two tons of paper.

Of course, the Council could also vote to downsize the requirement of pages and still call for an election.

Exciting times ahead.

As I said last Thursday after viewing the latest Council meeting, I liked the feel, ease and smoothness of the meeting. Everyone seemed on the same page.

So is this a short-lived phenomenon, or our Council of the future? I guess we’ll soon see.

B-t-w, congrats to Rob Giem who will head up Compass, a new real estate company coming to town. 

Giem, formerly a partner at HOM Sotheby’s International Realty in Newport Beach, has impressive credentials: Last year he sold a Laguna Beach estate for a record-shattering $45 million; His average sales price per transaction since 2007 has been $10 million; and, in every sale in OC more than $30 million, Giem has represented one or both sides.

Sounds like Compass got their guy.