The 4th District Court of Appeal on Friday rejected a request to block a $104-million developer fee program in Irvine that will help pay for the construction of three freeways, raising the possibility that opponents of the program will launch a referendum campaign.
Without comment, the court denied a petition from the Committee of Seven Thousand to delay the fee program pending full appellate review of an initiative circulated by the committee. That initiative would require that all new major road fee programs be placed on the ballot for a citywide vote.
The initiative, known as the Citizens Right to Vote ordinance, was ruled invalid by a Superior Court judge in August on a challenge by a coalition of business and development industry groups. The court supported the coalition's claim that individual cities should not be allowed to block funding programs for freeways, which are state highways of regional importance.
Irvine's participation is critical to the developer fee program, which would raise about half the money needed to build the San Joaquin Hills, Foothill and Eastern freeways because about a fourth of all the fees collected would come from Irvine. The Irvine City Council adopted the fee program early Wednesday, but its action will not become official until the ordinance is passed on second reading Oct. 22.