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There’s a new, unofficial branch of city government in San Diego: signature-gatherers, and more importantly, the people who pay them.

Here’s how it goes: If City Council passes a law someone doesn’t like, they can force it to a referendum by getting signatures from 5 percent of San Diego’s registered voters.

READ MORE: Referendum: Power Brokers’ New Legislative Tool

That’s exactly what opponents of One Paseo, Kilroy’s massive development in Carmel Valley, are doing now that City Council approved the project.

Kilroy Realty isn’t thrilled. So the developer is executing a ploy to distract professional signature-gatherers and block the One Paseo referendum. Kilroy is paying signature-gatherers to circulate a meaningless petition about keeping the Chargers in San Diego.

If you sign it outside of your grocery store, for example, your signature won’t actually push anything to a ballot measure. But hey, you got to pipe up for the Chargers, right?

Scott Lewis and NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia have more on this week’s San Diego Explained.

Catherine Green

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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