A spokesman for sponsors of a proposed initiative that would require all future jails to be built in Santa Ana said Monday that the Orange County Board of Supervisors is required by law to either put the measure before voters or adopt it without change.
The remarks of Tom Jones, attorney for Taxpayers for a Centralized Jail, came in response to a recommendation that supervisors ignore the jail initiative because it is legally flawed. Supervisors are scheduled to consider that recommendation by County Counsel Adrian Kuyper at their regular meeting today.
“This duty to submit the issue (to voters or to county regulations) is mandatory and ministerial,” Jones wrote in an opinion he submitted to the five board members on Monday.
Quoting another case, he added: “Our government is by the people, and neither an elected board nor a court has the power to limit the reserved right to initiative and referendum.”
Qualified in August
Taxpayers for a Centralized Jail qualified the initiative for the ballot in August with 112,000 signatures. The signature drive came in response to a plan by supervisors to build a new jail in Gypsum Canyon, next to Anaheim Hills.
The measure, if adopted or approved by voters, would require all future jails to be built in Santa Ana because it is the county seat and the location of the county’s main courthouse. Santa Ana officials, meanwhile, have launched a counter-initiative drive that seeks to ban construction of new jails in incorporated cities.
The board is required by law to adopt that measure or schedule it for the next countywide ballot, which would be June, 1990.
But in the opinion issued last week, Kuyper said that the Anaheim Hills residents’ initiative may not be valid because it could preclude county government from performing a basic service.
Kuyper suggested that supervisors ignore the measure and let initiative proponents take the issue to court, where a judge could decide whether it is valid. Otherwise, Kuyper said, the county’s jail planning could be stalled for two years until the ballot measure and the legal questions are resolved.