Nearby residents and urban planners, meanwhile, say that having year-round residents on site is critical to bringing life to what’s now a dead-zone: an asphalt parking lot wrapped around a massive convention center building that’s empty when there’s no event in town.
If the commission on Friday sides with Morales, that doesn’t mean there can’t be apartments on the convention center campus. It just means that, if the city changes its mind, another public referendum would be necessary.
As it stands, the city’s charter requires only a simple majority to approve the convention center leases. That won’t be the case if Commissioner Jonah Wolfson gets his way.
Wolfson has led a petition drive to change the city’s charter so that 60 percent of voters must approve leases for any land within the convention center site. He gathered enough signatures — more than 5,000 — to force the city to put the charter amendment on November’s regular election ballot.
In a lengthy legal brief, City Attorney Jose Smith wrote that applying the new rules to the current project is probably not legal “because it would impact vested rights and impose new duties and conditions” for ACE.
Commissioners on Friday will decide whether to allow Smith to seek a court order to confirm his position since, he wrote, “there is no case directly on point.”
Once all the ballot questions are settled, expect fierce campaigning for and against the project — which will be on a busy ballot along with an open mayoral race.
“Everything impacts the mayor’s race,” said Góngora, who’s running for the position against Libbin and businessman Philip Levine. “Every item will bring out a different type of voter.”
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