“I felt totally tricked” says one resident – but anti-stadium signatures can be withdrawn.
Inglewood residents: Beware of dishonest signature gatherers who are endangering the Hollywood Park stadium!
That’s the warning from city leaders this week, as a rash of deceptive signature collectors are knocking on doors in an attempt to lure unsuspecting residents into signing a petition against the stadium project. Project opponents from outside of Inglewood are paying door-knockers to visit local neighborhoods and use misleading claims – or outright lies – to collect signatures that would reverse the City Council’s approval of the City of Champions Revitalization Initiative.
“I felt totally tricked and scammed! I couldn’t believe what happened to me,” said Susana Espana, whose home near Crenshaw Blvd. and 118th Place was visited on Monday by a fraudulent signature gatherer. The man claimed that his petition would show support for the new professional sports stadium. He even encouraged Espana to sign a second time, on behalf of her sister, who also supports the stadium.
Espana said she became slightly suspicious after the man was unable to point to specific language showing support for the project, dismissing the petition as “law talk.” But she didn’t realize she had been lied to until being alerted by her husband, who had heard about the anti-stadium effort on the radio.
“I love Inglewood, and I want to see it succeed,” said Espana, who moved to Inglewood seven years ago from the San Fernando Valley. “This project is very important to me.”
City leaders and project supporters are cautioning all Inglewood residents about the signature gatherers, including some who falsely claim their petitions would support professional football or prevent a tax increase.
“These petitions are being funded by outside special interests who want to block the Revitalization Project and dismantle everything we’ve worked to achieve,” said Mayor James T. Butts. “All citizens have the right to express themselves, but to try to collect voter signatures through deception and lies is completely unconscionable.”
The City of Champions Revitalization Project has won widespread support throughout Inglewood. An independent analysis shows the project will create 22,600 full- and part-time jobs during construction, and sustain 10,465 permanent jobs once it is in full operation. As part of the project agreement, the developer has agreed to a goal of hiring local Inglewood residents to fill at least 35 percent of permanent jobs at the stadium. An economic forecast predicts the project will generate a total of $3.8 billion in economic output during construction, and generate $911 million annually at full operation.
No public money will be used to build the stadium, which will generate millions of dollars in local tax revenue each year to support Inglewood city services.
More than 22,000 supportive signatures were collected earlier this year for the project, which was unanimously approved in February after nearly 50 community members expressed support at a City Council meeting.
Fortunately, Susana Espana reacted quickly after learning she had been misled. After calling City Hall for help, she was able to withdraw her signature from the anti-stadium measure by signing a separate form the next day.
“My message is, be aware and be prepared,” she said after her experience. “This was a reminder: Only sign something when you know exactly what it is you’re signing.”