The drive for signatures to qualify the Hotel Limitation Measure for a Sonoma ballot is off to a fast start, organizers say. Nearly 150 people signed the petition at a “launch party” on Sunday, “a figure over 10% of what we need to trigger a special election,” according to Larry Barnett of the Preserving Sonoma Committee.
When roughly 1,200 signatures are gathered — over 15% of the registered voters in Sonoma — the petition requires the City of Sonoma to schedule a special election. “We expect that we will collect the required number very quickly,” Barnett said.
The measure would amend the city’s general plan to limit any new hotel, or expansion of an existing one, to 25 rooms unless the city’s hotel occupancy rate exceeds 80 percent. Historically, the city averages an occupancy rate of about 65 percent.
Dozens of people have volunteered to help gather signatures, and the group is holding a training session for this weekend, Barnett said.
“Though we have a full 180 days to gather the requisite number of signatures, our expectation is that we’ll accomplish it within 30 to 60 days,” Barnett said. “If we end up gathering well more than 1,200 signatures, so much the better.”
Timeline: Hotel Limitation Measure
• Proponent has 180 days, until about August 15, to file signatures with the City Clerk.
• City Clerk submits petition for verification and count of signatures
• If measure obtains approval by at least 15% of registered voters, City Council options are:
o Adopt the ordinance at the regular meeting within 10 days.
o Immediately order a special election, to be held within 88-103 days.
o Order reports regarding fiscal, environment or other impacts. Reports must be submitted within 30 days.
• Adopt ordinance or call special election within 10 days of receiving the reports
• Order special election to be held within 88-103 days from date reports submitted.
• City certifies election results once received from county
• Ordinance goes into effect within 10 days
• If measure receives approval by more than 10% but less than 15% of registered voters, Council options are:
o Adopt the ordinance
o Submit the ordinance to the voters at next regular election (Nov. 2014)