The Law Office of Asit Panwala filed a reply brief asking the Sixth District Appellate Division to overturn a trial court ruling that prevented voters from exercising their right to referendum. In Morgan Hill, the City Council voted three to two to rezone industrial land to provide a windfall to an out-of-town developer, River Park Hospitality, so that they could build a hotel. More than 2,500 voters rejected the ordinance by signing a petition asking that the City place the measure on the ballot for approval before it became effective. The City initially ignored the referendum and tried to enact the zoning change despite of it. The developer, looking to make a quick dollar, listed the property for sale for $2 million dollars more than he paid a year earlier.
However, the Law Office of Asit Panwala sued the City, and forced them to place the measure on the ballot. The City then sued to remove it from the ballot preventing the voters from deciding the issue. Yes, really. They sued to remove the measure that they placed on the ballot.
The trial court ruled against the Coalition because the general plan had already been changed and held that voters could not vote to keep inconsistent zoning. We argued that the voters should be allowed to reject one commercial zoning designation for another (one that does not allow for hotels). There are eleven other commercial zoning options to choose from other than the one picked by the Council.
The Coalition obtained a stay from the Court of Appeal and the issue will now be decided by the Sixth District. Briefs were just submitted to the Court. Let the voters decide. That’s all we want.