Lead Paint Initiative Challenged as Misleading and Deceptive Will Not Appear on California’s General Election Ballot

On June 28, 2018, the proponents of an initiative that Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys and others challenged in the California Supreme Court as misleading and deceptive withdrew that initiative from consideration.  As a result, the initiative will not appear on California’s November general election ballot.

Titled the “Healthy Homes and Schools Act of 2018,” the initiative appeared on its face to be a straightforward measure to authorize taxpayer-funded bonds for cleaning up environmental hazards, including lead paint in California residences that, under People v. ConAgra Grocery Products Co. (2017) 17 Cal.App.5th 51 (“ConAgra”), pet. rev. denied, Feb. 14, 2018, the initiative’s paint-manufacturer backers were legally required to abate.  However, the effect of the initiative was to excuse those manufacturers from having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to satisfy the public nuisance abatement judgment against them, which Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys, as Special Appellate Counsel on behalf of the County of Santa Clara, the City and County of San Francisco, and numerous other public entities, had helped to preserve on appeal.

On June 26, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that the initiative had received enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.  That same day, on behalf of the County of Santa Clara and City and County of San Francisco, lawyers from Altshuler Berzon LPP, together with attorneys from the Santa Clara County Counsel’s office and San Francisco City Attorney’s office, filed an original petition for a writ of mandate in the California Supreme Court to prevent the initiative from appearing on the ballot.

Two days after the writ petition was filed, on the last possible day on which withdrawal was possible under state law, the proponents of the initiative formally withdrew it.  The underlying public nuisance litigation now returns to the trial court for recalculation and implementation of the abatement judgment.

Partners Michael Rubin, Stacey Leyton, and Matthew Murray were the principal Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys who represented the public entities in the initiative challenge.

The writ petition may be found here.