The hysteria centered on an 11-inch-by-6-inch postcard designed to educate and inform Palm Springs residents on Measure C is deafening. It is also without merit, according to City Attorney Edward Z. Kotkin.
A local citizens group, Palm Springs Neighbors for Neighborhoods, has filed two complaints with the California Fair Political Practices Commission alleging the postcard was paid for by taxpayers and presents biased and misleading information on the current ordinance as well as the impact to the city should voters approve Measure C.
Measure C is a ballot initiative that asks residents to decide on June 5 whether vacation rentals of single-family residences in single-family residential zones should be banned.
The city-issued postcard arrived in residents’ mailboxes this week. It outlined the city’s current vacation rental ordinance, which was adopted April 2017. It also explained the potential effects of Measure C. It cost the city $7,192 to print and mail it. With tax, the total cost was $7,856, according to City Manager David H. Ready.
The city attorney approves all ballot information that leaves City Hall to make sure it complies with very strict election laws,” Ready told Uken Report. “He is confident it will not be deemed illegal in any way. Moreover, we went through this last year regarding Measure D, and the FPPC found no wrongdoing on the part of the City.”
The law prohibits publicly-funded mailers that expressly advocate the passage or defeat of any ballot measure, Kotkin wrote in a letter to Uken Report.
“A city-funded mailer must be a fair presentation of facts serving an informational purpose, and may not be campaign material. As city attorney, I reviewed the mailer’s form and content as to compliance with all applicable law,” Kotkin wrote.
The city’s long-established practice with respect to any proposed ballot measure is that the city sends voters educational material addressing issues raised, Kotkin explained in the letter. Before sending the mailer on April 26, 2018, city staff required a few days to evaluate potential content and ensure compliance with applicable law.
“The city understands and respects the passion expressed by residents with respect to Measure C on both sides,” Kotkin wrote. “The city’s mailer places data and information about this important matter in the hands of residents to inform their decision, and thereby advance the public welfare.”
You may read Kotkin’s entire letter here.
Rob Grimm, campaign manager for the VoteYesOnC group, said the group believes the intent of the mailer was to sway Palm Springs residents to vote against the measure.
Palm Springs voters can access information on the city’s website about the June 5 special municipal election focused on ballot Measure C.
The deadline to register to vote is May 21. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, June 5.
- David H. Ready: City of Palm Springs