Grocery store chain Albertsons LLC filed a civil complaint in SLO County Superior Court, claiming that individuals standing outside its Paso Robles location to gather signatures are creating a nuisance for shoppers.
The complaint, filed on Jan. 9, claims that several unknown individuals were trespassing on the premises of the Paso Robles location, as well as other locations in California, trying to obtain signatures for petitions from customers.
- Photo From Court Documents
- PESKY PETITIONERS Albertson's says that several unarmed individuals, including the man above, are violating the company's solicitation policies and seeking signatures for petitioning outside their Paso Robles, creating a nuisance for customers.
"Defendants have entered the premises without permission and have refused to leave when asked to do so by store personnel," the complaint stated. "Albertsons has not given consent to the defendants' presence or conduct at the store. An ordinary person would be disturbed by defendants' conduct."
The complaint contains a single photo of one of the alleged signature gatherers, but does not identify him. The lawsuit also does not state what kind of petition the individuals were seeking signatures for. Albertsons' director of public affairs, Jenna Watkinson, said the company's solicitation policy prohibits petitioning regardless of the substance of the petition itself.
"It doesn't matter what the petition is for," she said. "The company remains neutral on the petition's content, but political activity is not allowed in front of our stores."
The complaint asks the court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting the yet-to-be identified petitioners from soliciting signatures at its stores, including but not limited to the Paso Robles location.
"Our priority is our customers, and we've had too many customers harassed over the years," Watkinson said.
With the 2018 elections just around the corner, California residents are likely to encounter petitioners seeking signatures to get various measures placed on the ballot. The issue was the subject of a recent alert by the SLO County's League of Women Voters, who urged voters to be cautious when asked to sign ballot measure petitions.
"Remember your signature is valuable, perhaps even more valuable than your vote," the notice stated. "Why? Because far fewer signatures are required to qualify a measure for the ballot than votes needed to pass it once it's on the ballot."
According to the California secretary of state's website, current petitions are circulating for potential ballot measures to repeal the recently approved gas tax increase, regulate the state's kidney dialysis clinics, and place limits on resources that California law enforcement agencies can use to assist federal officials with immigration enforcement activities, among others.