Longtime Calimesa Councilman Jim Hyatt was served a notice of intent to recall before Monday night’s Calimesa City Council meeting.
The hand-delivered notice on Nov. 2 states that proponents of a recall petition intend to seek the recall and removal of James O. Hyatt from the office of city councilman in Calimesa and to demand election of a successor in that office.
The proponents are a group called Calimesa Citizens for Responsible Development, which includes John Gates who served the notice to Hyatt.
Hyatt, who is serving his fifth four-year term, has seven calendar days to file an answer with the city clerk and the Calimesa Citizens for Responsible Development.
Tuesday morning, Hyatt said he had already begun to draft his response. “I was kind of half way expecting it,” said Hyatt, of the notice of intent to recall.
In his 17 years as an elected official for Calimesa, Hyatt said a recall has previously been threatened, but “never gotten this far.”
Hyatt was part of the city’s Incorporation Committee. Calimesa will celebrate its 25th anniversary as a city on Dec. 5, with a dinner at the JP Ranch Clubhouse.
“We live in a country where you’ve got the right to do things and I fully support that,” Hyatt said Tuesday. “Of course, I am going to vigorously defend myself.”
The notice of intent states the grounds for recall are that Calimesa City Councilman James O. Hyatt does not represent the interests of the residents of Calimesa.
It continues to state the public outcry demanding Calimesa city council’s action to prohibit very large warehouses in the city has been delayed many times by his actions. He has had numerous antagonistic encounters with residents.
Residents have complained he rejects resident involvement concerning community development issues and has a negative attitude toward anyone who disagrees with him.
He is currently the defendant in a lawsuit for defamation filed by a fellow Calimesa city councilman. Some residents suggest the actions and inactions of Councilman Hyatt have caused a loss of public trust and he should be recalled from his office.
During communications from the public, resident Marlene Davis said, “After a year, you are still not listening to the Calimesa citizens. Coun- cilman Hyatt you wonder why the citizens at the Oct. 19 meeting were not excited and did not comment on the conditional use permit, when it is obvious you are showing more favoritism toward developers than the citizens of Calimesa, who put their trust in you to represent them.”
Hyatt responded by saying, “I don’t know how many times I’ve given you my position, and it’s not for warehouses.
“The city is trying to create an environment that precludes any warehouses from that side of the freeway that you live on. We’re working on that diligently.”
After the meeting, Davis said Hyatt was still not listening.
“We don’t want any warehouses in the city of Calimesa,” she said, stressing the word “any.”
Hyatt told residents in attendance that he hoped they would get a chance to read his reply to the notice.
“I think maybe if you take the time to read it and really understand what I’m saying, you’ll understand that I’m not for warehouses.”
After Hyatt files his answer, the proponents must fill out a recall petition form to be approved by city clerk Darlene Gerdes, who also is the election official for Calimesa.
Following approval, members of Calimesa Citizens for Responsible Development have 60 days to collect recall signatures from 25 percent of the registered voters in Calimesa. The group would need about 900 signatures, Gerdes said.
Once the signatures are verified, then the recall petition goes before city council to determine a date for a recall election.
If all is approved, the proponents are looking at a recall election in June 2016, Gates said.
The reason the group does not want it sooner is “we don’t want to ask the city for a special election because it would cost about $25,000 to $30,000 and that’s kind of shooting everyone in the foot,” Gates said.