Conceptual drawing of the Downtown Plaza arena lower bowl (AECOM)

An initiative seeking to put the issue of building a new downtown arena on the June ballot has been dealt a major blow.  The Sacramento City Clerk has decided to reject the June ballot measure due to problems with the petitions gathered that support it.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal were notifed this morning by city clerk Shirley Concolino that their petitions were “noncompliant with the California elections code and the Sacramento City Charter and are therefore insufficient” to send the issue to a vote.  They had gathered more than the necessary 22,000 signatures from registered city voters to send the issue to the June ballot.

The Bee reports that Concolino found numerous flaws in the petitions used to gather support for the ballot measure.  The groups used nine different versions of petitions and each failed to contain an enacting clause, which notifies signers that what they’re supporting becomes law if passed by voters.

More from the Bee:

Concolino said signatures were gathered on petitions that omitted an entire paragraph from a notice of intent the measure’s supporters filed with the clerk when they began gathering signatures. Those petitions also included “entirely new language” that did not appear in the notice of intent, as well as statements ending in incomplete sentences.

The clerk said 6,719 signatures appeared on the petitions with those differences. Rejecting those signatures alone bumped STOP well below the number needed to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Another 105 signatures were gathered before STOP filed its notice of intent.

In another misstep, when the proponents of the STOP measure published their notice of intent in the Sacramento Observer newspaper, they omitted their names and signatures in the publication, the clerk said.

Though this is a win for the pro-arena movement, a court battle between the two sides is probably next.  The anti-arena groups will now likely seek a legal challenge to the city clerk’s dismissal of the June ballot measure.