Opponents of the largest housing proposal in Moorpark history complain that backers of the 3,221-home Hidden Creek Ranch have recently harassed those gathering signatures against the project.
"This is dirty politics, and it doesn't belong in Moorpark," said Roseann Mikos, who co-wrote that city's version of the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources initiative. She said the sign of one member of her group was torn up by a Hidden Creek supporter.
Mikos is also a driving force behind the latest referendum, which seeks to force a vote on the development that would expand the city's boundaries by 4,300 acres and increase Moorpark's population by one-third.
Supporters of the referendum had until Friday to gather signatures from 10% of the city's 16,020 registered voters to force a special election. Proponents turned in petitions with more than 2,400 signatures Tuesday afternoon to the Moorpark City Clerk for verification.
Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy Kory Martinelli said officers in Moorpark responded to numerous harassment complaints from signature gatherers over the last two weekends. No one was arrested or cited. When officers responded, Martinelli said, both sides said they had been harassed.
"It's a highly charged political case," he said.
Two weeks ago, a political action committee formed. It supports Measure F, Moorpark's growth-control initiative that allows Hidden Creek Ranch to proceed, and opposes the Mikos-backed referendum designed to scuttle the project.
William Messenger Jr., president of Irvine-based Messenger Investment Co., is listed as the committee's treasurer. Messenger could not be reached for comment.