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Walnut Creek initiative war begins in earnest

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Monday, June 8th, 2009 at 3:10 pm in ballot measures, Walnut Creek.

It’s gonna be a long, hot summer.

Macerich, backers of a new Neiman Marcus in Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, filed an initiative petition today with city officials that seeks to ask voters to approve once and for all the controversial high-end retailer in downtown.

The move comes as the opponents, funded by mall company competitor Taubman Co., are pursuing a referendum of the City Council’s recent approval of the project. Taubman interests have also said they will file some type of growth-related initiative petition although no details of its contents have been made public.

Residents are already receiving robocalls and mailers. Signature-gatherers are knocking on doors and lining up outside stores.

In the case of dueling initiatives, if all pass, the measure with the most votes typically prevails.

In addition to Macerich, sponsors of the pro-Neiman Marcus petition include former Walnut Creek Mayor Gwen Regalia, Rossmoor leader David Smith and former Walnut Creek Arts Cmmissioner Carole Wynstra.

Here’s the press release that Macerich sent out a few minutes ago, after the jump…

New Initiative Asks Walnut Creek Voters to Approve Neiman Marcus Project at Broadway Plaza
Citizens’ Initiative Counters Taubman Challenges to Locally Approved Project
Walnut Creek, Calif., June 8, 2009 – Three Walnut Creek community leaders have filed a citizens’ initiative to approve the project set to bring Neiman Marcus to Broadway Plaza. Broadway Plaza is owned in a joint partnership with Macerich and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
The initiative will be funded, at least in part, by Macerich Northwestern Associates, the owner of Broadway Plaza for more than 24 years, and counters referendum petitions financially backed by an affiliate of Taubman Centers, the owner of Sunvalley Mall in Concord, to overturn Walnut Creek City Council approvals for the Neiman Marcus project.
Proponents of the initiative are former Walnut Creek Mayor Gwen Regalia; David Smith, a leader in the Rossmoor community; and Carole Wynstra, former Walnut Creek Arts Commissioner and a member of the Walnut Creek Library Foundation.
“Taubman has no interest in Walnut Creek other than in attacking its position as the region’s retail leader,” Carole Wynstra said. “A key purpose of this initiative is to preserve the retail vitality of Walnut Creek, protect the economic benefits to the community that come from the city’s strong retail core and make sure decisions about Walnut Creek’s future are made by Walnut Creek residents.” The new store is expected to generate $400,000 annually in new sales tax dollars to support Walnut Creek city services.
“We will work with these three long-standing, well respected community leaders, whose efforts over the years are well known for the betterment of Walnut Creek and its citizens, to bring this issue to local voters in the clearest possible way, and to ask voters for an up-down vote on the future of Broadway Plaza and the vitality of downtown retail in Walnut Creek,” said Chuck Davis, vice president, development for Macerich, the owner and operator of Broadway Plaza.
This initiative was prompted by the launch of Taubman-backed referendum petitions seeking to unwind recent Walnut Creek City Council approvals of the Neiman Marcus addition. “We’re very appreciative of the people of Walnut Creek and their patience with recent signature-gathering. Especially now, we hope everyone will take a moment to work with us to put this new initiative on the ballot. We believe it will yield the best result over the least amount of time, and protect the interests of Broadway Plaza and Walnut Creek and its residents,” Davis said.
Petition-carriers for this new initiative will include local volunteers, college students and non-profit groups that are part of the Walnut Creek community; they will be wearing T-shirts and carrying signs reading “YES – Support Neiman Marcus at Broadway Plaza” to help voters identify the pro-Broadway Plaza signature-gatherers. Supporters can even add their signatures when they are shopping at Broadway Plaza.

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  • RR

    Taubman has hired mentally defective, smelly, “Hey, I’m dope-free for 2 weeks now!” guys to collect signatures. I can only hope the other side does better.