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RB group completes land-use petition drive

Committee turns in signatures for a proposed initiative that would require vote by residents on some City Council decisions.

By Kristin S. Agostoni STAFF WRITER, Daily Breeze

Let the counting and scrutinizing begin.
As promised, members of a Redondo Beach political action committee ended their petition drive Friday, turning over what they believe are more than enough signatures to put a controversial land-use initiative on the ballot.

The brown Kinkos boxes they carried into the City Clerk's Office just before 3 p.m. held more than 100 spiral notebooks displaying 7,121 names. To qualify, they need valid signatures from 5,825 voters -- 15 percent of the beach city's electorate.
"It feels good to be done," said Jim Light, the chairman of Building a Better Redondo, which proposed the initiative to give voters a say on major land-use changes.
But the names on the petition still must be counted and verified -- a process that will likely take weeks.

By 5 p.m. Friday, City Clerk Eleanor Manzano and her staff were still reviewing the petition booklets, examining addresses and flagging potential problems.
Manzano said she plans to ask the City Council on Tuesday night how the process should proceed with the county Registrar-Recorder's Office.

The state Elections Code states that officials could opt to validate the petition by examining only a random sample of its signatures. But if the results fall within a certain percentage range, a full examination of every name would be required.
Or, City Attorney Mike Webb said the council has the option of asking county elections officials for a complete signature check right off the bat.

A review of each name could cost Redondo Beach thousands of dollars; Manzano said she was quoted a price of $2.19 per checked signature.
Despite the expense, at least one elected official said Friday he'd be inclined to ask for the full count.

"This is a change in the (city) charter," Councilman Steve Aspel said. "I'm going to push to have every (name) tallied, regardless of the cost."
The land-use initiative sparked controversy almost immediately after it was proposed last fall.

Light and members of Building a Better Redondo say they proposed the measure out of a growing frustration with city leaders moving to rezone land for more homes.
It would essentially weaken the City Council's power. If officials approved a "major change in allowable land use" that surpasses certain density and traffic thresholds, the project would be tested in a citywide election where voters could block it.

The petition singles out three ways a council decision would go to a vote: by converting public land to private use; by rezoning nonresidential land for residential or mixed-use projects yielding more than 8.8 units per acre; or by approving a zone change that would "significantly increase" traffic, density or "the intensity of use."

The last category targets rezoning scenarios allowing residential projects with more than 25 units and others with more than 30,000 square feet of commercial space. In terms of traffic, projects yielding more than 150 daily trips would be affected.

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