An Orange County Superior Court judge Thursday denied a petition by the to scrap the overturning the proposed North Beach retail project.
Despite the denial, attorneys for the developer said there are still some legal options to pursue.
"The petition ... is denied," read Judge James Di Cesare's ruling. "After an election has already taken place, its results may only be challenged on the basis that (1) there has been a violation of California Elections Code ... or (2) if there has been a constitutional violation.
"Issues raised by petitioners do not amount to constitutional violations," Di Cesare said in the denial.
Measure A was a referendum to permit the to move forward. in March, but LAB development principals along with project supporter, .
The petition also cited other legal and procedural issues.
LAB attorney Darryl Wold said that the ballot measure was a referendum on the zoning changes, not the specific commercial development. Therefore, he said, the voter information materials and the city attorney's analysis were inaccurate in including and describing the Playa del Norte development proposal.
The zoning changes were under consideration specifically to accommodate that development, however.
Furthermore, Wold's colleague Charles Krolikowski argued, part of Measure A's language called for voters to vote on administrative decisions—specific use permits rather than zoning changes—that are legally prohibited from being addressed on ballot measures.
City Attorney Jeff Oderman argued on behalf of keeping the results.
"There is not a single voter who is saying, 'Gee, I didn't know what I was voting on,' " Oderman said before the judge. "That the will of the voters should be overturned by some esoteric argument ... is really elevating form over function.
"What we have here is three losers," Oderman said of the petitioners and their efforts to take the city to court. "They saw it coming, and they waited for it, and now it's sour grapes. The voters have made their decisions. Elections should be decided at the ballot box."
Wold reiterated that the vote wasn't valid because the voters weren't told exactly what they were voting for. He said the analysis and voter information materials were "describing to the voters what wasn't on the ballot and and failing to describe what was."
He said the voter information materials and attorney's analysis produced by the city should have been strictly limited to saying that the ballot measure was a vote on general and specific zoning plan amendments.
"If counsel does not feel that that language is informative enough for the voters, then that's up to the opponents and proponents," he said. "That's not up to the city or the official elections materials to tell voters what's really behind it."
Wold told reporters after the hearing that he would have to confer with his clients but that there were a couple options that would still allow them to pursue their objective. Though Judge Di Cesare denied the petition, he left a legal window open allowing the petitioners an option to bring the case back before his court.
Also, the petitioners have the option to appeal the denial, Wold said.
The Sadeghis were not at the courthouse Thursday—Wold said he’d have to confer with his clients to see if they wanted to carry the case further.