A Riverside judge on Friday ruled in favor brought against the legality of a Murrieta voter initiative seeking to ban red-light cameras from the city.
"It removes it from the ballot subject to any other action," said Charles H. Bell of Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk, the firm representing Murrieta resident Steve Flynn in the suit.
by Judge Daniel Ottolia sides with the argument brought forth that traffic regulation is a matter of statewide concern. It also states the initiative is flawed as written because it does not call for the adoption of an ordinance.
"Instead, it improperly directs the Murrieta City Council to adopt an ordinance banning the use of red light cameras within the City of Murrieta," Ottolia wrote in the ruling.
"The presence of an invalid measure on the ballot steals attention, time and money from valid propositions on the same ballot. It will confuse some voters and frustrate others, and an ultimate decision that the measure is invalid coming after the voters may have voted in favor of the measure tends to denigrate the legitimate use of the initiative process," Ottolia wrote.
The attorney for the Murrieta residents who gathered signatures for the initiative, Diana Serafin and Robin Nielson, told Patch he will appeal Friday's ruling.
"We are going to seek a stay so that the Registrar (of Voters) and City Clerk can proceed [with the ballot initiative]," said Peter Lepiscopo of Pacific Justice Institute. "The judge has skipped over the requirement that this challenge happen promptly. It should have happened in November 2011 when the City Council approved the initiative. Instead, they waited until the last minute. That is why we are going for the stay."
The Riverside County Registrar of Voters Office, which was also named in the lawsuit along with the city of Murrieta, has said it has an Aug. 15 deadline to publish the ballot.
Serafin declined to comment for this story, "under the direction of her lawyer."
Flynn, on the other hand, told Patch Friday's ruling "was a good win for the citizens of Murrieta."
Flynn was a Public Safety and Traffic commissioner for the city of Murrieta when the red-light cameras were implemented.
"These people are being selfish about these cameras," Flynn said. "There are 104,000 people who live here in Murrieta and they are one small group. If they hate these cameras and living in one of the safest cities in America, they can get out. Why can't they realize I do care about the citizens of Murrieta?"
Questions about who funded Flynn's lawsuit still remain.
"The lawyer approached me. They know my name. I was the chairman (of the commission) at the time," Flynn said.
Bell said should Lepiscopo appeal the judge's decision, "he will have an uphill battle."
"We are pleased with the judge's decision. We think it was the right decision legally," Bell said.