yesbccouncil copyCouncilmember Todd Gloria has been taking strides to reform the referendum process in San Diego. In his previous role as Council President, he and San Diego City Council supported the Barrio Logan community when corporations launched a deceptive referendum that ultimately repealed the community-developed and long overdue plan that would make Barrio Logan a healthier place to live.

The dishonest process resurfaced again when City Council voted to raise the minimum wage and increase paid sick time off and multi-national, billion-dollar corporations paid signature gatherers to mislead voters into signing. Now, Councilman Gloria is moving to reform referendum policies and restore true democracy to the people of San Diego.

Recently the U-T San Diego ran an editorial criticizing these efforts titled “Bad Councilman Todd Gloria”. We had to speak up. Todd Gloria’s efforts clearly do not to thwart the democratic process, but do just the opposite- protect it.

Below is Diane Takvorian’s response to the U-T, which can also be found here.

Councilman Todd Gloria’s efforts to reform the City’s referendum system is exactly what’s needed to restore true democracy to the people of San Diego. Rather than “Bad Councilman Todd Gloria”, he is shining a light on a system that allows multi-national corporations to exact undue influence over legislative decisions. Case in point is the defeat of the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update in June 2014 as the result of a referendum financed by the multi-billion dollar shipbuilding industry. After four years of extensive community participation by thousands of residents that resulted in a compromise approved by the City Council that would have improved the community by mitigating pollution and reducing childhood asthma, the plan was repealed by voters. This, despite a finding by a local judge confirming that the public had been deceived by the signature gatherers but still allowed the election to proceed.

Ultimately the special interests opposing the Barrio Logan plan spent over $1,700,000 to win their referendum campaign, outspending the local community by 17:1 and leaving the outdated and dangerous industrial zoning in place. This is a clear example of the distortion of a true democratic process at the expense of community residents who will have to live with the devastating effects. Reform is overdue and Councilman Gloria is leading the way.

Diane Takvorian
Executive Director
Environmental Health Coalition