SACRAMENTO — The state Senate on Monday gave overwhelming approval to a bill that could ease the way for construction of a controversial beachfront hotel in Hermosa Beach.
The measure by Sen. Robert Presley (D-Riverside) was sent to Gov. George Deukmejian on a 35-0 vote. From the time it reaches his desk, Deukmejian has 12 days to sign the measure, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.
Deukmejian has not announced a position on the legislation. "Traditionally, the governor doesn't take a position until he gets a bill on his desk," said Donna Lipper, the governor's deputy press secretary.
The bill was prompted by a court case involving contested ballots cast in a referendum election on whether the 250-room hotel should be built on The Strand between 13th and 15th streets.
Court Rules for Project
A Superior Court judge overturned the results of the referendum, ruling that the supporters of the project had won the June, 1985, election by a single vote.
Judge Philip M. Saeta disallowed an absentee ballot signed by Margaret Davey because she had it delivered by someone else. The case has been appealed.
Meantime, developers of the proposed hotel, Greenwood & Langlois, turned to Presley to carry a bill to make clear that the Legislature had intended to prohibit a so-called third party from returning an absentee ballot.
According to a Senate staff analysis of the bill, the developers contend that their proposal "will merely clarify existing law and will not give them any unfair advantage" in the ongoing court case.
Sheila Donahue Miller, a lawyer for hotel opponents, has said that the bill is tailored to influence the outcome of the election and make it easier for the appeals court to rule in favor of the hotel's builders. She termed the measure "a special-interest bill pushed by the developers" of the hotel.
Besides the developers, the measure was supported by the League of California Cities and the Coronado City Council. The Hotel Referendum Committee of Hermosa Beach has campaigned against the hotel.
Sen. Robert Beverly (R-Manhattan Beach), who represents Hermosa Beach, was listed as absent or not voting on the Presley bill.