Ballot Box Navigator
Michael Patrick Durkee, Jeffrey A. Walter, David H. Blackwell, and Thomas F. Carey

Ballot Box Navigator

Regular price $50.00
  • Item# BB
  • ISBN: 978-0-923956-66-0
  • Copyright (c) 2003
  • Paperback
  • 187 pp.
  • Price: $50.00

Full title: Ballot Box Navigator: A Practical and Tactical Guide to Land Use Initiatives and Referenda in California


This book focuses on the tools available in California for the regulation of land uses and the control of new development through ballot measures known as initiatives and referenda. The authors provide a comprehensive perspective on the subject, as well as a complete summary of the law and the process.


  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Initiatives
  3. 3. Referenda
  4. 4. The Election
  5. 5. Procedural and Substantive Limitations and Exceptions
  6. 6. Judicial Review
  7. 7. Recall Elections


Ballot Box Navigator is the authoritative resource on securing a ballot title, qualifying an initiative or referendum for the ballot, and submitting a measure for an election. With short articles, practice tips, drawings, an index, glossary, and a table of authorities.

The book covers the following topics:

  • How to qualify a petition for the ballot
  • Preparing arguments in favor of the initiative or referendum
  • The ballot measure election and the election campaign
  • Legal effects of the election
  • Limitations and exceptions
  • Pre- and post-election challenges Judicial review


Michael Patrick Durkee is a partner, resident in the San Francisco office of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP, where he represents private and public sector clients in all aspects of land use, local government, and election law. Mr. Durkee writes and lectures extensively throughout the state and is the primary author of Map Act Navigator (Land Use Navigators 1999­2003) and co-author of Land-Use Initiatives and Referenda in California (Solano Press Books 1990, 1991).

Jeffrey A. Walter, a principal in the law firm of Walter & Pistole, has been representing and advising governmental agencies regarding local governance, elections, and land use matters for more than twenty years. Mr. Walter is currently the city attorney for the Northern California cities of Cotati, Corte Madera, Martinez, and Novato.

David H. Blackwell is a senior counsel, resident in the San Francisco office of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP, where he specializes in land use, local government, and elections law. Mr. Blackwell represents landowners, businesses, developers, and governmental entities before administrative agencies and state and federal courts.

Thomas F. Carey, a partner in the law firm of Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty in Napa, California, specializes in land use, alcoholic beverage, real property, and local government law.


The use of the ballot box to regulate land use is a subject that has been central to policy making in California since the state adopted its second constitution in 1879. That document provided for a city to adopt its own charter, thereby gaining autonomy over matters of strictly local concern. While the text often refers only to "a city," unless otherwise stated it is also meant to refer to "a county." Likewise, relevant Elections Code sections are given for city, county, and special district elections.

Citations to sections shall refer to the California Elections Code, unless otherwise indicated. Additionally, whenever the procedures or requirements differ between cities and counties, the difference is noted and explained. Finally, where the word "measure" is used, it is meant to refer to the initiative itself or the measure subject to a referendum, depending upon the context.

This book follows the earlier Solano Press title, Land Use Initiatives and Referenda in California (Durkee, Jacobson, Wood, Zischke, 1990), whose copyright is held by Bingham, McCutchen, LLP. We wish to express our appreciation to the Bingham, McCutchen firm (and especially to partners Sandy Skaggs and Dan Curtin) for their gracious permission to use parts of that earlier work in this new book. Likewise, we mention, honor, and are truly appreciative of the work of Tom Wood, Mike Durkee, Tom Jacobson, and Mike Zischke, all of whom were formerly attorneys at the Bingham, McCutchen firm and are authors of that earlier work.

Finally, we wish to express our special appreciation to friend and mentor, Daniel J. Curtin, Jr. Dan is the reason why this book exists. Through his writings, speeches, and overall mentoring, he is also the reason why so many of us have made land use our chosen career path.


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