California Government Code Section 34873
California Government Code Section 34873 provides, "An ordinance enacted pursuant to this article may be amended or repealed in the same manner; provided, the term of office of any council member elected shall not be affected."
The article includes section 34871, which provides a legislative body may submit to the electorate an ordinance providing for the election of members of the legislative body in one of four different ways, such as "by districts in five, seven, or nine districts," or "by districts in four, six, or eight districts, with an elective mayor."
The language of the statute reflects it relates to ordinances "enacted pursuant to this article." The article concerns the creation of a particular number of districts in a by-district system.
Therefore, the plain language of section 34873 reflects the statute provides for the repeal or amendment of an ordinance creating a particular number of electoral districts within a by-district voting system. Accordingly, the question remains whether section 34873 applies to removing the by-district system entirely in favor of an at-large voting system.
Most likely, the answer is that the statute does apply to removing the by-district system entirely due to section 57378. Section 57378 provides, "If the voters in the incorporation election determine that future city council members shall be elected 'by districts,' or 'from districts,' the provisions of Article 2 (commencing with Section 34870) of Chapter 4 of Part 1 of Division 2 shall apply to those elections." Section 34873 is within the identified provisions (commencing with 34870).
Thus, under the plain language of section 57378, when a by-district system of election is chosen, section 34873, which concerns repealing ordinances, is an applicable statute. Therefore, when voters at an incorporation election choose to elect future city council members in a by-district method, if voters later want to alter that choice, section 34873 would apply.
Nevertheless, if sections 57378 and 34873 were not to apply for some reason, then Supreme Court case law would fill that gap.
The California Supreme Court has explained, "'It is the general rule that power to enact ordinances implies power, unless otherwise provided in the grant, to repeal them. It is patently obvious that the effectiveness of any legislative body would be entirely destroyed if the power to amend or repeal its legislative acts were taken away from it. ... The power of repeal extends, generally speaking, to all ordinances. Indeed, a municipal corporation cannot abridge its own legislative powers by the passage of irrevocable ordinances. ...'" (Blotter v. Farrell (1954) 42 Cal.2d 804, 811 270 P.2d 481.) "On appeal following a trial court's grant of a summary judgment motion, we determine de novo whether an issue of material fact exists and whether the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law." (County of Tulare v. Nunes (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1195 155 Cal. Rptr. 3d 781.)
The interpretation of statutes and the determination of whether a local ordinance is preempted by state laws are also issues subject to de novo review. (Id. at pp. 1195-1196.)
"The Supreme Court reiterated the rules of statutory interpretation as follows:
'When we interpret a statute, "our fundamental task ... is to determine the Legislature's intent so as to effectuate the law's purpose. We first examine the statutory language, giving it a plain and commonsense meaning. We do not examine that language in isolation, but in the context of the statutory framework as a whole in order to determine its scope and purpose and to harmonize the various parts of the enactment. If the language is clear, courts must generally follow its plain meaning unless a literal interpretation would result in absurd consequences the Legislature did not intend. If the statutory language permits more than one reasonable interpretation, courts may consider other aids, such as the statute's purpose, legislative history, and public policy."'" (City of Glendale v. Marcus Cable Associates, LLC (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 344, 350 185 Cal. Rptr. 3d 331.)