On May 30, 2018, Asit Panwala argued that voters have the right to exercise the power of referendum when cities change zoning to become consistent with a recent general plan amendment.  In City of Morgan Hill v. Bushey, et al., S243042, the City of Morgan Hill refused to hold an election even though they conceded that it had a sufficient number of signatures and was timely filed.

The City argued that voters had no right to reject their choice of zoning because the voters cannot reject consistent zoning when the alternative is to keep inconsistent zoning in place.  Panwala argued that voters should be exercise that power because there are other commercial zoning districts available to the City that do not permit hotel use that the City could readily adopt.  He also argued that the People’s reserve power of referendum would be rendered meaningless otherwise.

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The ballot measure would have allowed the voters to decide whether a three-acre parcel should have been rezoned at the behest of a developer who plans to build a hotel.  It would have immediately doubled the value of the land, and provided the out-of-town developer with a $2 million dollar windfall.  Local hotels opposed the ordinance.  The Supreme Court will issue a decision in 90 days.

Asit Panwala was co-counsel with  Randy Toch of the Law Office of J. Randall Toch in this matter. Both pictured above after the argument.

If you are interested in the Supreme Court’s case summary and docket, please visit this link. Supreme Court Case Summary