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Referendary Petition Process

The following information is provided as a general guideline to the referendum process in the City of San Diego.

For legal provisions, see SDMC, Chapter 2, Article 7, Division 11 (PDF)

A REFERENDUM IS THE SUBMISSION TO A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE OF A LEGISLATIVE ACT PASSED BY THE CITY COUNCIL.

Any legislative act, except acts making the annual tax levy, making the annual appropriations, calling or relating to elections, or relating to emergency measures, shall be subject to the referendum process.

Before a referendary petition may be submitted to the Council, it must contain the signatures of at least five percent (5%) of the registered voters.


PLEASE CONTACT THE OFFICE OF THE CITY CLERK AT (619) 533-4000 FOR THE NUMBER OF VALID SIGNATURES REQUIRED FOR SUBMITTING A REFERENDARY PETITION TO THE CITY COUNCIL, OR SEE CURRENT SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS (PDF).


A referendary petition may be filed with the Clerk any time within thirty (30) calendar days after the exercise of the final legislative act.

FINAL LEGISLATIVE ACT
(when Mayor has veto power)*

After the City Council has approved a legislative act, the City Clerk has up to 48 hours to transmit the act to the Mayor for action [SD City Charter, Section 280(c)(1)].

After receipt of the legislative act, the Mayor has up to 10 business days to approve or veto it [SD City Charter, Section 280(c)(2) and 280(c)(3)].

If the Mayor approves the legislative act, then the date of the final legislative act is the date of the Mayor's approval (the date of final passage) [SD City Charter, Section 295(a)(1)].

If the Mayor vetoes the legislative act, the City Council must reconsider it [SD City Charter, Section 285]. If the City Council overrides the Mayor's veto, then the date of the final legislative act is the date of the Council's override vote [SD City Charter, Section 295(a)(3)]. If a vetoed legislative act does not receive sufficient votes to override the Mayor's veto within 30 calendar days of such veto, the act is deemed disapproved and has no legal effect [SD City Charter, Section 285].

If the Mayor does not return the legislative act within 10 business days of receiving the City Clerk's transmittal, then the act is considered approved and takes effect without the Mayor's signed approval [SD City Charter, Section 280(c)(4)]. In this instance, the date of the final legislative act is marked by the expiration of the Mayor's 10-day period to act.

*In the case of a legislative act for which the Mayor has no veto power, the date of passage by the Council is deemed the date of final passage [SD City Charter, Section 295].

THE PETITION

The petition shall set forth the questioned legislative act in full. Following this shall be a statement containing, in three hundred (300) words or less, the reasons for the petition. The statement must be signed by the individual proposing the petition or, in the case of an organization, by two (2) officers of the organization. The individual or officers signing the statement must also affix the date of signing, and provide a residence, mailing or business address at which the proponent may be reached. This material must be printed in no less than 10 point type. (NOTE: When filing the petition with the City Clerk, the originally signed statement of reasons must also be filed.)

Proponents are required to supply their own petition forms.

The petition may be circulated in sections, but each section must contain the legislative act in full, the proponent's statement of reasons, one or more voter signature sheets, and the affidavit of authenticity of the circulator of the petition section.

Each section must consist of sheets of white paper uniform in size with dimensions no smaller than 8-1/2 by 11 inches, and no greater than 8-1/2 by 14 inches.

The sheets comprising each petition section shall be fastened together securely and remain so during circulation and filing.

The petition shall be in substantially the following form:


REFERENDARY PETITION

REFERENDUM AGAINST A LEGISLATIVE ACT ADOPTED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO.

To the Honorable City Council of The City of San Diego:

We, the undersigned registered voters of The City of San Diego, California, hereby present this petition to the City Council of The City of San Diego, California, and ask that the City Council repeal, or submit to the registered voters of the City for their approval or rejection, that legislative act adopted by the City Council on the _________________ day of ___________________ of which the following is a full and correct copy:

(Here insert full title and text of the measure to be referred,
the statement of reasons, the voter signature sheet(s)
and the circulator's affidavit of authenticity.)

(Form of Voter Signature Sheets for Petition)

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC
THIS PETITION MAY BE CIRCULATED BY A PAID
SIGNATURE GATHERER OR BY A VOLUNTEER.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK.

Name Residence Date Clerk's Use Only
1 Sign                             
Print






2 Sign                             
Print






3 Sign                             
Print






(The Notice to the Public shall appear in clear, readable type no smaller than 12-point in size.)

(A space at least one (1) inch wide shall be left blank along the right-hand side of the voter signature sheet, for the City Clerk's use once the petition is filed.)


Each section shall have attached to it the affidavit of authenticity of the person soliciting the signatures (the "circulator"). The affidavit of the circulator shall be in the following form:

AFFIDAVIT OF AUTHENTICITY

COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO )
)  SS.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA )

Under penalty of perjury, I,
 
_________________________,
(Printed name of circulator)
declare:
 
That all of the signatures on the voter signature sheets of this petition section were made in my presence and were observed by me; that all of the sheets constituting this petition section were fastened together at the time such signatures were made; that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, such signatures are the genuine signatures of the individuals who signed the petition; and, that the signatures were obtained between:

________________________
(Beginning date of circulation)
and _________________________
(Final date of circulation)
________________________
(Circulator's Printed Name)
__________________________
(Circulator's Signature)
________________________
(Circulator's Residence)
_________________________
(Date Signed by Circulator)

(Unless the circulator's affidavit of authenticity is signed, the signatures on that petition section are invalid.)

CIRCULATING THE PETITION

A referenday petition may be circulated by a paid signature gatherer or a volunteer who must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old.

SIGNING THE PETITION

Each voter signing the petition shall sign it in the manner prescribed below:

  1. Signature and printed name, in the signer's own handwriting.
  2. Place of residence, affixed by the signer, including street and house number, or other designation from which the location of the place of residence may be readily ascertained. Post Office box numbers, business addresses, or mailing addresses are not permitted, and, if used, shall make that voter's signature invalid.
  3. Date of signing, affixed by the signer.

Only voters are entitled to sign a petition.

Any number of voter signature sheets may be incorporated into a petition section.

When filing the petition with the City Clerk, you must also submit six (6) petition sections, each with an unsigned voter signature sheet and an unsigned circulator's affidavit of authenticity. These are for the public and the media to view.


-NOTE-

PETITION CIRCULATION MAY BEGIN THE FIRST CALENDAR DAY FOLLOWING THE EXERCISE OF THE FINAL LEGISLATIVE ACT.


VERIFICATION OF SIGNATURES

Within 30 calendar days from the date of filing the petition, the signatures on the petition shall be verified by the City Clerk. The signatures may be verified by means of the random sampling method as provided for in California Elections Code Section 9115.

The random sample of signatures to be verified shall be drawn in such a manner that every signature filed with the City Clerk shall be given an equal opportunity to be included in such a sample. Such a random sampling shall include an examination of at least three percent (3%) of the signatures.

If the statistical sampling shows that the number of valid signatures is within 95 to 110 percent of the number of signatures of qualified voters needed to declare the petition sufficient, the City Clerk shall examine and verify each signature filed.

Results of past petition examinations have indicated that the percentage of valid signatures obtained is in the 75 to 80 percent range. Therefore, circulators should exercise diligence in obtaining signatures from qualified registered voters only, and should consider obtaining signatures over and above the number required to validate the petition.

CLERK'S CERTIFICATION

The City Clerk shall certify the results of the signature verification and send a notice of sufficiency (or insufficiency) to the proponent or a representative of the proponent.

For a sufficient petition, the City Clerk shall present the petition with certification attached to the City Council at the next regular Council meeting at which the matter can be placed on the docket.

Once a referendary petition has been filed, the questioned act does not become effective until the City Clerk issues a notice of insufficiency or, if the petition is found sufficient, until the issue has been decided by the voters.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION

After a referendary petition has been qualified and presented to the City Council, the Council must reconsider the legislative act in question within ten (10) business days.

If the City Council either refuses to grant the petition to repeal the act or if it fails to reconsider the act within ten (10) business days after the petition has been presented to it, the Council must adopt a resolution of intention to submit the matter to the voters, and direct the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance calling an election to place the matter on the ballot. The matter may be considered at the next City-wide Primary or City-wide General Election at which it can be placed on the ballot; or at a separate special election called prior to that time for the purpose of voting on the matter.

If a majority of the voters voting on the act of the City Council approve that act, it is deemed adopted on the date the Council adopts its resolution declaring the election results. The act is effective ten (10) calendar days after the date the resolution is adopted, unless an earlier date is specified in the resolution.

For legal provisions, see SDMC, Chapter 2, Article 7, Division 11 (PDF).

Revised September, 2011