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Campaign Launched to Oust Measures : Ventura: Homeowner cites backing of a development plan. But the city attorney says the councilwoman will be barred from voting on it.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An east Ventura homeowner has launched a movement to recall Councilwoman Rosa Lee Measures, claiming she has abused the public trust by backing a development proposal by her friend and business associate Ron Hertel.

But Ventura’s city attorney said Friday that Measures and two other council members--Gregory L. Carson and Gary Tuttle--will be barred from voting on the project because each has an investment in property within 2,500 feet of the land.

Elaina Fletcher, the homemaker who is leading the recall movement, said she will nevertheless continue her campaign to oust the councilwoman.

Whether Measures is allowed to vote on the project is a moot point, Fletcher argued, because the councilwoman has already lobbied aggressively on behalf of the proposal since she was elected last fall. The council is scheduled to consider the project Monday.

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Measures defended her record Friday, saying she feels certain that the public that voted her into office will want to keep her there.

The Hertel proposal calls for building 437 homes on a city-owned lemon orchard in exchange for Hertel’s giving Ventura $2 million and land for a sports center. The project has pitted eastside sports enthusiasts against open-space advocates and neighbors of the proposed development.

Fletcher, who lives near the site and belongs to a group called Save Our Agricultural Resources, said she is confident she can get the roughly 8,550 signatures needed to hold a recall election.

She said many people who voted for Measures are now saying they are shocked by the councilwoman’s support for the Hertel project.

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“This was the only way they could get their vote back,” she said.

Measures said she was completely taken by surprise when Fletcher handed her a formal recall notice outside City Council chambers in City Hall on Friday morning.

Her surprise was evident, Fletcher said.

When Fletcher asked the councilwoman to sign the notice to acknowledge receipt, Measures responded by tossing the paper back at Fletcher and refusing to receive it.

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“I was a little stunned,” Fletcher said.

But Measures said later: “I had no idea what she was presenting me.”

City Atty. Peter Bulens said Friday afternoon that Fletcher had been mistaken in thinking Measures was supposed to sign the notice.

Measures is the first Ventura City Council member in at least five years to be targeted for recall, Bulens said.

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Fletcher filed the notice to recall with the city Friday.

Measures will have up to one week to respond in writing to the notice before recall proponents may begin circulating petitions.

Fletcher and two dozen other residents who signed the recall notice will then have 160 days to gather signatures of at least 15% of Ventura’s 57,000 registered voters, Bulens said.

If the group gets enough signatures, the city could hold a recall election next spring.

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Measures said Fletcher and the other recall proponents are putting their own narrow interests above the greater good of Ventura.

“This is a group that would prefer not to have anything else happen in their back yard,” Measures said. “I find it really interesting that anyone would go to such an extent in opposition of a regional sports center. As near as I can determine, that’s what this is about.”

Hertel has proposed to give Ventura $2 million to put a sports center on his 94 acres at Telephone and Kimball roads if the city allows him to build homes on an 87-acre lemon grove at Telegraph Road and Petit Avenue.

Because both sites are designated to remain farmland until the year 2010, the council would have to amend the city’s General Plan in order to approve the Hertel project.

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The council will take a first step toward either approving or rejecting the project Monday when it votes on housing allocations for this and 10 other development projects.

But only four of the seven council members will be able to vote on the Hertel allotment.

Measures’ parents live in a home owned by the family trust that is within 2,500 feet of the Hertel land. Carson owns and lives in a house in the area. And Tuttle’s wife owns an interest in a rental home that is also within a 2,500-foot radius of the property.

Of the four remaining council members, three would have to vote in favor of the Hertel housing allotment for it to go forward, Bulens said.

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