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SLO anti-fee initiative fails to pass muster 

A charter fee initiative that had 5,537 supporting signatures failed the signature verification process and was rejected by the San Luis Obispo city clerk. The initiative didn’t receive the minimum number of valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, according to a press release.

The City Clerk’s Office took a sample of 500 of the signatures and found only 325 that were “sufficient”—in other words, from legitimate SLO voters.

“Applying the Secretary of State’s random sampling formula to the raw count results in the total number of 3,264 valid signatures submitted,” said the release. “A minimum of 4,050 valid signatures were required for the initiative petition to be validated.”

The initiative needed support from 15 percent of the city’s population because it would have changed the city’s charter. Other initiatives only need signatures from 10 percent of the city’s population.

Supporters of the User and Regulatory Fees Initiative, proposed by the San Luis Obispo Property Owners Association, gathered and turned in approximately 5,595 signatures to the city clerk in mid-September. Though the signatures were submitted too late for this year’s election, the initiative’s supporters were hoping to get their initiative on the 2012 ballot.

The initiative’s backers were optimistic about getting it on the ballot, especially since they thought they had gathered 1,500 more signatures than the 4,050 needed.

The initiative would have modified the city’s charter so that many fees could only be increased by a vote of the citizens, just as city taxes are now. Fees mandated by the state constitution—such as water and wastewater fees; transportation impact fees; and trash, water and sewer rates—would not be affected.

If approved, the initiative would “require voter approval of any new regulatory or user fees, or any increase or expansion of those fees.” Those fees include parking, sidewalk use, and permit processing, along with fire and safety inspection. It would also roll back all fees approved this year; they would have to be put to a vote by the public. The proposition would also restrict all fee increases so that they “shall not proportionately exceed the regional Per Capita Family Income levels, as published by the U.S. Department of Labor.”

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