Ruling Keeps Rent Control Off Gardena Ballot

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has turned down a resident's request to force Gardena officials to put a rent control ordinance before voters in Tuesday's election.

Judge Warren Deering ruled last week that 33-year-old free-lance writer Mark Hessman had waited too long to file his lawsuit. Deering said that, among other things, sample ballots have already been printed and mailed to the city's voters, and a handful of absentee ballots have already been returned to the city clerk.

Hessman filed suit on March 18 to force the city to put the initiative before voters, asserting that the City Council acted illegally last December when it refused to put the matter on the ballot after the city attorney said that the measure was unconstitutional. Deering did not rule on the constitutionality of the initiative.

Hessman and his supporters had collected 2,206 valid signatures from registered voters in support of the measure. To qualify an initiative for the Gardena ballot under state law, 1,907 signatures are needed--10% of the city's registered voters.

Hessman said he was uncertain if he would work to get a rent control ordinance placed before the city's voters at a later date.

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