Costa Mesa Misses Deadline to Put Charter on June Ballot

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Costa Mesa missed the deadline to put a proposed city charter on the June primary ballot and now must seek a judge’s approval to allow the measure to go before voters as planned.

“The city’s position is that the decision on whether to put the charter measure on the ballot should not be determined by a clerical error,” City Attorney Tom Duarte wrote in a news release distributed late Tuesday afternoon.

While Costa Mesa’s deadline to turn in official documentation for the charter vote was March 9, the county registrar’s office didn’t receive the resolutions until sometime afterward.

The deadline for other charter documents was extended from March 9 to Monday, the city said, so the city clerk incorrectly believed the deadline for resolutions was also extended.

Because of the late submission, Orange County Registrar Neal Kelley couldn’t place the charter on the June ballot, according to the city. The registrar plans on filing a court declaration stating that “the missed deadline would have no impact on the election process,” Duarte wrote.

In a written statement, the county employees union said the pace of its charter process, which has drawn criticism from some residents, contributed to the mistake.

“This is what happens when you rush,” said Jennifer Muir, spokeswoman for the Orange County Employees Association.

“We asked them to slow down the process and include more people in it and take care of the concerns, and instead they insisted on rushing it forward. They should start all over, slow down and listen to the people of this city.”

The city, meanwhile, says the missed deadline “had nothing to do with the speed of the process.”

“The city clerk made a mistake and thought those items were due Monday,” said city spokesman Bill Lobdell. “The union officials’ claim is typically disingenuous. The facts just don’t support it.”

The county registrar couldn’t be reached Tuesday evening.

— NICK GERDA

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