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Bridges v. City of Wildomar

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

July 15, 2015

MARTHA BRIDGES et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
CITY OF WILDOMAR, Defendant and Respondent.

APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County No. RIC1216373, Matthew C. Perantoni, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

David X. Turajski for Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Burke, Williams & Sorenson, Thomas D. Jex; and Amy E. Hoyt, City Attorney, for Defendant and Respondent.

OPINION

MILLER J.

In February 2008, when voters chose to incorporate the City of Wildomar (Wildomar), voters also chose to elect city council members via

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by-district elections. In November 2009, voters chose to replace the by-district voting system with an at-large voting system. Martha Bridges and John Burkett (Plaintiffs) sued Wildomar for modifying the by-district means of electing City Council members. Plaintiffs asserted two causes of action: (1) the modification of the voting system violated Government Code[1] sections 57378, 34884, and 34871, and (2) the modification of the voting system was preempted by the California Constitution. The trial court granted Wildomar’s motion for summary judgment and denied Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiffs contend the trial court erred because (1) the modification of the voting system violates state statutes; (2) the modification of the voting system is preempted by the California Constitution; (3) Wildomar lacks the authority to repeal enactments that predate its existence as a city; and (4) the modification is invalid because the relevant ordinance does not contain a severability clause. We affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. Elections

The Riverside Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) oversees the incorporation of new cities in Riverside County. In August 2007, LAFCO adopted Resolution No. 91-07 ordering Wildomar be incorporated subject to voter approval. Pursuant to Resolution No. 91-07, the election to confirm the incorporation of Wildomar would also present the question of whether, in future elections, members of the Wildomar City Council (the City Council) would be elected by district or at large.

The incorporation and election system questions were placed on the February 2008 ballot, as Measures C and D, respectively. Voters approved the incorporation of Wildomar by passing Measure C. Voters also chose to elect future City Council members via by-district elections. Wildomar's incorporation became effective on July 1, 2008. Wildomar incorporated as a general law city.

On July 22, 2009, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 31 establishing five districts for City Council elections, in accordance with the by-district voting system. Also on July 22, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 09-52 authorizing a special election to be held on November 3, 2009. The special election would present three ordinances to the voters.

On November 3, voters approved Ordinance No. 09-E01, which repealed the by-district elections ordinance and established an at-large system for

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electing future members of the City Council. All members of the City Council have been elected via at-large votes. No member of the City Council has ...


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