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Committee for Preservation of Established Neighborhoods v. Riffel - 8/24/2006

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Affirms ruling that CPEN's Referendum Petitions Failed to Comply with Statutory Referendum Requirements.

CPEN filed a referendum petition challenging a Wickenburg rezoning ordinance. The Wickenburg town clerk rejected the petition because they did not contain a description of the measure in the petition as required by A.R.S. Sec. 19-101(A). Instead of inserting the required language into the petition, CPEN stapled the description to its petition. CPEN filed a special action seeking to compel the clerk to put the referendum on the election ballot. The superior court ruled that the petition was invalid as a matter of law because it did not comply with 19-101(A). The appellate court agreed, rejecting CPEN's argument that the affixed description satisfied the constitutional and statutory principles required for referendum petition. The appellate court, applying the strict compliance standard required in W. Devcor, Inc. v. City of Scottsdale, 168 Ariz. 426, 428-29 (1991), held that an attachment of the referendum description did not constitute an insertion of the description as required by section 19-101. Moreover, explained the court, requiring the circulators to include a description of the referred measure in the petition itself ensures that petition signers are informed about the measure referred in a way that attaching the description would not.

Judge Timmer authored the opinion in which Presiding Judge Orozco and Judge Weisberg concurred.

Posted On: 8/28/2006