Article X: Initiative, Referendum and Recall

Section 10.01 Initiative: The registered voters of the city shall have power to propose any ordinance and to adopt or reject the same at the polls, except an ordinance appropriating money, authorizing the levy of taxes, or any subject where such action is contrary to the general laws of the state of Washington. Any initiated ordinance may be submitted to the city council by a petition signed by registered voters of the city equal in number to at least fifteen per centum of the number of votes cast at the last preceding municipal general election. No initiated ordinance shall embrace more than one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title. The proposed ordinance shall be stated in clear and unambiguous language and so that its entire effect is apparent on its face. (As amended by vote of the people on November 4, 1986 and November 2, 2004.)

Section 10.02 Referendum: The registered voters of the city shall have power to approve or disapprove at the polls any ordinance passed by the city council, or submitted by the city council to a vote of the registered voters of the city, except such ordinances as may be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or for the support of the city government and its existing public institutions, or providing for the approval of local improvement assessment rolls, or for the issuance of local improvement bonds or on any subject where such action is contrary to the general laws of the state of Washington. Within thirty days after the enactment by the city council of any ordinance which is subject to a referendum, a petition signed by registered voters of the city equal in number to at least ten per centum of the number of votes cast at the last preceding municipal general election may be filed with the city clerk requesting that any such ordinance be either repealed or submitted to a vote of the registered voters of the city. (As amended by vote of the people on November 4, 1986 and November 2, 2004.)

Section 10.03 Petitions and Committees: All petition papers circulated for the purposes of an initiative or referendum shall be uniform in size and style.  Initiative petition papers shall contain the full text of the proposed ordinance.  Petitions shall be in a form prescribed by the City Clerk, and may be approved in advance as to form by the City Attorney.  The signatures to initiative or referendum petitions need not all be appended to one paper, but to each separate petition there shall be attached a statement of the circulator thereof as provided by this section.  Each signer of any such petition paper shall sign in ink or indelible pencil and shall indicate after such signer's name, the signer's place of residence by street and number, or other description sufficient to identify the place.  On each petition shall appear the names and addresses of the same five registered voters of the city, who, as a committee of the petitioners, shall be regarded as responsible for the circulation and filing of the petition.  Printed on each separate petition paper there shall be an affidavit of the circulator thereof, affirmed under penalty of perjury, that said circulator personally circulated the foregoing paper, that it bears a stated number of signatures, that all the signatures appended thereto were made in the circulator’s presence, and that the circulator believes them to be the genuine signatures of the persons whose names they purport to be.  (As amended by vote of the people on November 3, 2009 and November 2, 2004)

Section 10.04 Filing and Certifying: All petition papers comprising an initiative or referendum petition shall be assembled and filed with the city clerk as one instrument.  Within twenty days after a petition is filed, the city clerk shall determine whether each paper of the petition has a proper statement of the circulator and  shall convey the signed petition to the officer responsible for the verification of the sufficiency of the signatures to the petition under state law for such verification.  The city clerk shall declare any petition paper entirely invalid, which does not have printed thereon an affidavit affirmed under penalty of perjury signed by the circulator thereof.  If a petition paper is found to be signed by more persons than the number of signatures certified by the circulator, the last signatures in excess of the number certified shall be disregarded.  If a petition paper is found to be signed by fewer persons than the number certified, the signatures shall be accepted unless void on other grounds.  After completing examination of the petition, and after receiving verification of the sufficiency of such petition signatures from the officer responsible for verification of the sufficiency of signatures under state law, the city clerk shall certify the result thereof to the city council at its next regular meeting.  If the clerk certifies that the petition is invalid or has insufficient signatures, the clerk shall set forth in a certificate the particulars in which it is defective and shall at once notify the committee of the petitioners of such findings.  (As amended by vote of the people on November 3, 2009, November 2, 2004, and November 4, 1986.)

Section 10.05 Amendment of Initiative Petitions: An initiative petition may be amended at any time within twenty days after the notification of insufficiency has been sent by the city clerk by filing a supplementary petition upon additional papers signed and filed as provided in case of an original petition. The city clerk shall, within five days after such an amendment is filed, convey the amended petition to the officer responsible for the verification of the sufficiency of the signatures to the original and amended petition under state law for such verification. If, after receiving verification of the sufficiency of such original and amended petition signatures from the officer responsible for verification of sufficiency of signatures under state law, the petition be still insufficient, the clerk shall file a certificate to that effect and notify the committee of the petitioners of the findings and no further action shall be had on such insufficient petition. The finding of the insufficiency of a petition shall not prejudice the filing of a new petition for the same purpose. (As amended by vote of the people on November 2, 2004)

Section 10.06 Effect of Certifying: When a referendum petition has been certified as sufficient by the city clerk, the ordinance specified in the petition shall not go into effect, or further action thereunder shall be suspended if it shall have gone into effect, until and unless approved by the registered voters of the city, as hereinafter provided. (As amended by vote of the people on November 2, 2004)

Section 10.07 Consideration by Council: Whenever the city council receives a certified initiative or referendum petition from the city clerk, it shall proceed at once to consider such petition. A proposed initiative ordinance or referred ordinance shall be given a first reading, and provision shall be made for publication, second reading and public hearing upon the proposed ordinance. The city council shall take final action on the ordinance not later than sixty days after the date on which such ordinance was submitted to the city council by the city clerk. A referred ordinance shall be reconsidered by the city council and its final vote upon such reconsideration shall be upon the question: "Shall the ordinance specified in the referendum petition be repealed?" (As amended by vote of the people on November 2, 2004)

Section 10.08 Submission to Registered Voters of the City: If the city council shall fail to pass an ordinance proposed by initiative petition or if the city council fails to repeal a referred ordinance within thirty days after the receipt thereof, the proposed or referred ordinance shall be submitted to the registered voters of the city at the next municipal general election provided such election shall occur sixty days or more after the city council takes its final vote thereon. If the city council shall pass a proposed initiative ordinance in a different form, it shall likewise submit the proposed ordinance in its original form, if, and only if, an additional petition signed by not less than five per centum of the number of votes cast at the last regular city election, requesting such submission, shall be circulated, signed, and filed in the same manner as the original petition and within ten days of the date of adoption of the amended ordinance. The city council may provide for a special election if, in its judgment, an emergency exists. (As amended by vote of the people on November 2, 2004)

Section 10.09 Form of Ballot: Ordinances submitted to vote of the registered voters of the city in accordance with the initiative and referendum provisions of this charter shall be submitted by ballot title, which shall be prepared in all cases by the city attorney. The ballot title may be different from the legal title of any such initiated or referred ordinance and shall be a clear, concise statement, without argument or prejudice, descriptive of the substance of such ordinance. The ballot used in voting upon any ordinance shall have below the ballot title the following proposition, one above the other, in the order indicated: "FOR THE ORDINANCE" and "AGAINST THE ORDINANCE." The voting system used shall have a means whereby the voter may vote for or against the ordinance. Any number of ordinances may be voted on at the same election and may be submitted on the same ballot. Regardless of the voting system used, the ballot title of any ordinance shall have below it the same two propositions, one above the other or one preceding the other in the order indicated, and the voter shall be given an opportunity to vote for either of the two propositions and thereby to vote for or against the ordinance. (As amended by vote of the people on November 2, 2004)

Section 10.10 Results of Election: If a majority of the registered voters of the city voting on a proposed initiative ordinance shall vote in favor thereof, it shall thereupon be an ordinance of the city. A referred ordinance which is not approved by a majority of the registered voters of the city voting thereon shall thereupon be deemed repealed. If conflicting ordinances are approved by the registered voters of the city at the same election, the one receiving the highest number of affirmative votes shall prevail to the extent of such conflict. (As amended by vote of the people on November 2, 2004)

Section 10.11 Publication and Repeal: Initiative and referendum ordinances adopted or approved by the registered voters of the city shall be published at least once and may be amended or repealed by the city council, as in the case of other ordinances only after a period of one year has elapsed after their enactment. (As amended by vote of the people on November 2, 2004)

Section 10.12 Recall: Any elective officer of the city may be recalled in the manner provided by law, but any vacancy created by a recall shall be filled in the manner provided in this charter.