Petition on SLO fees doesn't gather enough valid signatures to make 2012 ballot

A petition to amend San Luis Obispo's city charter so that the majority of voters would have to approve all regulatory or user fees imposed or increased by the City Council failed to qualify for the ballot in the 2012 general election.

Supporters of the ballot measure submitted 5,537 signatures to City Clerk Elaina Cano on Sept. 14. To qualify for the 2012 ballot, 4,050 valid signatures were required.

The signature verification completed by Cano used the random sampling methodology authorized under California Elections Code Section 9115, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

That process involved verifying 500 signatures randomly identified through a computer program maintained by the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorders’ Office. Those signatures were then verified against the county clerk’s voter registration database.

Common reasons for signatures not being verified are that the signatures are from people who are not registered to vote or who live outside the city, or that the addresses given do not match voter registration cards.

Cano said Tuesday that the petition’s supporters must gather all new signatures if they want to resubmit the initiative.

Stephen Barasch, a local architect, wrote in a statement of intent that the petition was meant to “add a layer of protection to local property owners and free payers from excessive rate increases.”