Hetch Hetchy ballot language having its day in court 

click to enlarge War of words: Backers of Proposition F,which will ask voters to authorize a study into draining Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and finding new water sources, say using the word “drain” on the ballot is prejudicial.
  • War of words: Backers of Proposition F,which will ask voters to authorize a study into draining Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and finding new water sources, say using the word “drain” on the ballot is prejudicial.

A fight over wording for a San Francisco ballot measure about the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir’s future is scheduled to be in court today.

In November, Proposition F will ask voters if they want The City to study the feasibility of finding alternative water and power sources and create a plan to drain the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park and restore it to a natural state. If the measure were to be approved, the question of actually ending the use of Hetch Hetchy for water storage and power generation could go before voters in 2014.

The proposition, whose main backer is the Restore Hetch Hetchy group, has sparked a fight over the language used on the ballot.

As it stands, the question that will appear on the ballot asks voters if they are in favor of The City preparing “a two-phase plan that evaluates how to drain the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir so that it can be restored by the National Park Service and identifies replacement water and power sources.”

A lawsuit was filed Aug. 17 arguing that the question is reversed and should instead ask about the identification of replacements before the restoration. It also states that “drain” is a word that is prejudicial to the ballot initiative.

The City Attorney’s Office responded to the complaint Thursday, arguing that the ballot question was approved through a public process and that the initiative’s supporters must establish that the question is false or misleading.

Both sides are scheduled to be in court this morning for a hearing on the matter. The City Attorney’s Office has requested that the court settle the issue before Sept. 4, when San Francisco needs to send off the final ballot for printing.

mbillings@sfexaminer.com

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