EL SEGUNDO — The ongoing dispute between pro-development city officials and anti-growth residents has erupted again, with both sides seeking to have part of the other's ballot arguments for an upcoming referendum thrown out.
The City Council filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court last week asking that City Clerk Ron Hart be ordered to remove parts of the ballot argument filed by the Group United for Residential Rights--the organization that started the petition drive that led to the referendum set for Feb. 24. The group is trying to overturn the council's approval of the 1.1-million-square-foot Continental Park office complex.
The lawsuit claims the group's ballot argument contains several "false and misleading" statements.
Nestor Synadinos, leader of the citizens group denied that and contended that the council's ballot argument is "a bunch of baloney." He said the group will file a countersuit asking the court to throw out parts of the council's ballot statement.
In the middle is City Clerk Hart, who said he intends to defend the ballot arguments as submitted by both sides. An elected official, Hart said his predicament is "just part of the job."
Anticipating the dispute, Hart presented the two arguments to a private attorney, Stephanie Sher, after the filing deadline last Tuesday. Hart said he decided against seeking the advice of the city attorney because of a possible conflict of interest. Sher, who could not be reached for comment, "concluded that neither argument included false statements and that both should be included on the Feb. 24 ballot," Hart said.
"This could get strange," he said.
The citizens group says the Continental development at the corner of Rosecrans Avenue and Aviation Boulevard would drain city services and aggravate traffic problems. According to the group, the council incorrectly said that the improvements provided by the developer would "significantly improve" traffic flow in the area.
The council, for its part, contends that the group made several errors in its ballot argument, including statements that the city will have to pay for the widening of Rosecrans, Aviation and Sepulveda Boulevard to accommodate the development and spend $118 million on light-rail construction through the development area that "could be used for schools, medical care and libraries."
In a rebuttal filed last week with the city clerk, Mayor Jack Siadek, said the city is not putting up anywhere near that much money for the light-rail system and that the amount it is providing could not be used for other purposes.
On the advice of City Atty. Leland Dolley, none of the council members reached by The Times last week would comment.