An Alameda County Superior Courtroom choose rejected Transfer Eden Housing’s lawsuit in opposition to the town of Livermore over the group’s failed referendum try from final yr, based on a ruling issued Thursday morning.
MEH first filed its go well with final August in an effort to persuade the courtroom to require metropolis clerk Marie Weber to course of the group’s referendum petition, which sought to overturn the town’s approval of an amended disposition, growth and mortgage settlement (DDLA) with Eden Housing, Inc. — the developer for the 130-unit reasonably priced housing complicated deliberate for downtown.
“Petitioner’s referendum is opposite to binding case legislation from the Courtroom of Enchantment for the First District,” Choose Michael Markman wrote within the order denying the lawsuit.
Citing the state appellate courtroom opinion in San Bruno Committee for Financial Justice v. Metropolis of San Bruno, Markman famous that “a referendum that assaults an administrative act, somewhat than a legislative act, is inappropriate and topic to problem even earlier than it’s authorised for an upcoming poll. The referendum on this case would reverse solely an administrative act, and so was correctly rejected for additional time-consuming processing.”
The choose’s feedback echo the reasoning that the town offered for not processing the referendum petition within the first place.
The referendum petition was initially submitted to the town in July of 2022. On the time, Weber deemed the council’s motion approving the DDLA as administrative, not legislative, and subsequently not eligible for a problem by referendum. Her willpower was based mostly on the recommendation of metropolis lawyer Jason Alcala and particular counsel.
Nevertheless, Transfer Eden Housing went ahead with its lawsuit, arguing that Weber didn’t have the authorized authority to refuse to course of the petition.
“It is very important observe that the Courtroom’s choice was based mostly upon the legislation the Metropolis offered to the proponents earlier than the petition was even circulated for signature gathering, and once more when the Metropolis declined to course of the petition as a referendum,” Alcala informed Livermore Vine. “Regardless of that legislation, the petitioner proceeded to mislead the voters for its personal motives and filed its lawsuit. We’re happy with the firmness of the Courtroom’s ruling and its help for the Metropolis Clerk’s position because the Metropolis’s elections official,” he added.
Linda Mandolini, president and CEO of Eden Housing, Inc. additionally expressed enthusiasm for Markman’s ruling.
“That is yet one more win for reasonably priced housing, the Metropolis of Livermore and the 130 households which can be eagerly ready to have a spot to name residence,” stated Mandolini.
As recommended by the group’s title, Transfer Eden Housing is advocating for the relocation of the housing growth and for a public park to be constructed on the present venture website situated on the southeast nook of Railroad Avenue and L Road.
Former Livermore mayor Bob Woerner — who was embroiled within the debate over the venture all through his two-year time period and years earlier than whereas serving on the council — stated that he’s “fairly happy” that the ruling in Transfer Eden Housing’s case upholds the town’s actions.
“This ruling, together with the current appellate courtroom ruling on the (Save Livermore Downtown) lawsuit, makes it clear that the reasonably priced housing will ultimately be constructed as unanimously authorised by the Metropolis Council,” Woerner stated. “The prolonged delays attributable to these meritless lawsuits are unconscionable and the courts have justifiably required $500,000 bonds to cowl potential damages to Eden to be posted in each instances.”
Save Livermore Downtown’s lawsuit in search of to overturn the town’s approval of the Eden Housing venture was denied in Alameda County Superior Courtroom in February 2022. Their subsequent attraction was rejected by the state appellate courtroom final month.
“Following the most recent string of authorized wins, it’s our hope that teams like Transfer Eden Housing and Save Livermore Downtown will cease these frivolous lawsuits which can be solely meant to delay and stall initiatives meant to deal with the dire housing disaster that our area is dealing with and goal to deal with our most susceptible populations,” Mandolini stated.
“Kudos to the Metropolis of Livermore for his or her steadfast resolve to combat for the Downtown Livermore residences in an effort to supply much-needed housing to its native workforce that’s struggling to afford hovering hire and meals prices,” she added.
In an announcement to Livermore Vine, Transfer Eden Housing spokesperson Maryann Brent doubled down on the group’s perception that Weber’s choice to not course of the petition was illegal.
“From MEH’s perspective, the legislation is evident that when a metropolis or county clerk processes a voter sponsored referendum or initiative, the clerk’s duties are restricted to figuring out whether or not procedural necessities have been met,” Brent stated. “The Livermore Metropolis Clerk exceeded her duties by speculating as to the validity of the referendum if enacted and refusing to observe the California Elections Code. The courtroom’s ruling did not acknowledge the Clerk’s illegal acts.”
Brent additionally expressed opposition to Markman citing the San Bruno case in his ruling.
“We additionally disagree with the courtroom’s conclusion that the Metropolis’s decision was an administrative act and never topic to referendum. In making this conclusion, the courtroom relied on a Courtroom of Enchantment choice referred to as San Bruno Committee for Financial Justice v. Metropolis of San Bruno, the place a decision to promote a metropolis property for growth of a lodge was decided to be an administrative act. The San Bruno courtroom choice didn’t tackle in any respect the clerk’s ministerial duties to course of a referendum, and so the Alameda Superior Courtroom erred in studying the scope of that call to use to MEH’s proposed referendum in Livermore,” she stated.
Brent stated that in mild of their disagreement with these factors and others in Markman’s ruling, the group is “contemplating its choices, together with submitting an attraction.”
Along with making an attempt to get their referendum processed, Transfer Eden Housing additionally tried to halt the sale of the land from the town to the developer by requesting a short lived restraining order. Nevertheless, Markman denied that request again in September.
Markman additionally ordered the group to submit a $500,000 bond to Eden Housing, Inc. in October of 2022 as safety for prices and damages incurred by the developer from delays to the venture attributable to litigation.
The beforehand city-owned land has been offered to Eden Housing, Inc. and is actually shovel prepared, however has been stalled on account of the back-to-back lawsuits by Transfer Eden Housing and Save Livermore Downtown, which determine themselves as separate teams however share members.
“It’s my understanding that the Eden Housing group can be happy with the courts’ choices on this case and the lawsuit introduced by Save Livermore Downtown, and that they proceed to maneuver ahead with their venture to offer a lot wanted reasonably priced housing in Livermore,” Alcala stated of the venture’s standing following this victory.