By Bradley Zint
5:41 PM PST, December 11, 2012
A petition to recall Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer is now certified, city officials confirmed Tuesday, but the effort still has a long way to go before the question goes before voters.
Schoolteacher Chris McEvoy, who unsuccessfully ran for council in 2008 and 2010, first announced his intent to unseat Righeimer during the Oct. 16 meeting, which the councilman later called a political "stunt" before the Nov. 6 general election.
The Westside Costa Mesa resident now needs more than 9,000 signatures from registered voters — or 15% of the city's electorate.
McEvoy said Tuesday that the grounds for Righeimer's dismissal are based on his July vote in favor of a traffic mitigation agreement between the city and Newport Banning Ranch LLC, the developer of a proposed residential and commercial development in West Newport that abuts the Westside.
"I know how he stands on that issue, and it's a horrible stance for the city," McEvoy said.
"Our city can't handle a development like this," he added. "We need to make it clear to our city leaders that the residents aren't going to stand for this type of development. We need people in our corner. The council majority is not in our corner."
Righeimer could not be reached immediately for comment Tuesday night.
McEvoy has created a website, http://www.FriendsOfCostaMesasFuture.com, about the recall and a Facebook event page detailing an informal meeting about it Wednesday evening.
He said the recall is not about the unions, or Righeimer and the council majority's controversial attempt at pension reform, but about development.
"You can't negotiate with buildings," McEvoy said.
Blogger Geoff West was first to report the recall effort on his site, A Bubbling Cauldron.
During the Oct. 16 meeting, then-Mayor Eric Bever said the $4.4-million traffic agreement in question hasn't been adopted.
The agreement, which the developer is reexamining, has not been signed, nor does it have any legal validity, Deputy city CEO and Economic and Development Director Peter Naghavi has said.
In response to the recall intent, Righeimer said during the Oct. 16 meeting that anyone has the right to attempt such a feat, but that "it's amazing what politics has gotten to now. If you don't like the vote, you go for a recall."
In reference to McEvoy, Righeimer said, "Small minds and small people do things like this."
According to interim City Clerk Brenda Green, any names on the recall petition are not public record. If McEvoy and his supporters can gather enough of them, they must be delivered to City Hall by May 15.
The signatures will then be sent to the Orange County Registrar of Voters for validation — a process that may cost Costa Mesa $20,000 to $25,000, Green said.
If certified, the registrar will sent them back to the city. The City Council will then vote to call an election. That election must then be held between 88 and 125 days later, Green said.