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Fate of Measure C still uncertain

After nearing two months since the lawsuit's final arguments, Judge Harold Hopp, who is on the case, still has made no decision as to whether he'll certify the measure.

A side view photo of the outside to Riverside County Superior Court
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Harold Hopp has made no decision in whether to certify Measure C. Riversiders passed the measure during the 2021 special election.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Harold Hopp has yet to make a ruling concerning certification of Measure C despite final arguments in the lawsuit being made Jan. 25.

Hopp initially said he was inclined to side against the City of Riverside during the Jan. 7 hearing, but heard further arguments after the statement. He has until April 30 to make a decision.

A group of local residents, collectively known as Riversiders Against Increased Taxes, first filed the lawsuit in September 2021 against the City of Riverside. The organization claimed that placement of Measure C on the Nov. 2 ballot — which would allow the city to continue its practice of upcharging utility customers — was unlawful because the tax was being voted on during a special election. The measure eventually did pass with 54% yes votes and an 18% voter turnout, but the judge halted its certification.

If certification were to pass it would allow Riverside to continue transferring $40 million a year from the city’s electric utility fund to the city’s general fund. According to a document by the Riverside City Attorney’s Office, the transfer was first approved by Riverside voters in 1968 and again in 1977.

The Parada v. City of Riverside lawsuit of 2018 was filed against the city alleging the transfer was a “general tax,” which would require voter approval under California Proposition 26 passed in 2010. In 2020, the Riverside County Superior Court ruled that Riverside voters must expressly approve the fund transfer. In 2021, the city settled the lawsuit and agreed to place the measure on the November 2021 ballot.