E. E. SWIFT et al., Appellants,
CITY OF PHOENIX, a Municipal Corporation, et al., Appellees.
[90 Ariz. 332] Wilmot W. Trew, and Stockton & Aldrich, Robert Ong Hing, Phoenix, for appellants.
John R. Franks, City Atty., Merle L. Hanson, Anis Mitchell and Leven B. Ferrin, Asst. City Attys., Phoenix, for appellees.
T. J. MAHONEY, Judge.
This is an appeal by certain property owners of West Bartlett and East Bartlett Estates from an order quashing a temporary[90 Ariz. 333] injunction and restraining order and from a judgment entered in favor of the City of Phoenix. It was stipulated between respective parties that the appeals filed on April 14, 1958, from the order quashing the temporary restraining order, and that of July 2, 1958, from the judgment, be consolidated for the purposes of appeal.
Paid employees of the City of Phoenix were directed to and did, solicit property owners within the areas described as West Bartlett Estates and East Bartlett Estates for the purpose of securing sufficient signatures to annex those areas to the City of Phoenix. The petitions requested the City to annex 'our property' within a legally described area. On February 4, 1957, the Clerk of the City of Phoenix, having in his possession and control the annexation petitions, informed the appellants' attorneys that he had examined the petitions and that they contained the signatures of property owners owning property valued at 50% or more of the entire assessed value of all property in the area sought to be annexed. The Clerk refused to allow the attorneys to see the petitions and informed them that it was the intention to hold such petitions until immediately before filing on Monday, February 18, 1957, and that an ordinance would be prepared and published on the same date. Appellants then secured the temporary injunction and restraining order referred to above.
The restraining order remained in effect and nothing further was done in the matter until a hearing was had on a motion for summary judgment on the 9th day of April, 1958, at which time the court quashed the restraining order. Thereafter, the case was set for trial th 13th day of May, 1958. On that date defendants filed an amended answer which was received by the court over plaintiffs' objections and the trial proceeded. On June 30, 1958, the Superior Court of Maricopa County made findings of fact and conclusions of law and entered judgment for the defendant, City of Phoenix. The court found that the signatures on the annexation petitions were valid for the purpose of vesting jurisdiction in the City of Phoenix to annex areas described in such annexation petitions.
The City, after the restraining order was quashed, then acted upon the petitions on April 4, 1958, and by ordinance annexed the said area to the City of Phoenix.
A.R.S. § 9-471 provides:
'A. A city or town may extend and increase its corporate limits in the following manner:
'On presentation of a petition in writing signed by the owners of not less than one half in value of the real and personal property as would be subject to taxation by the city or town in the event of annexation, in any territory contiguous to the city or town, [90 Ariz. 334] as shown by the last assessment of the property, and not embraced within the city or town limits, the governing body of the city or town may, by ordinance, annex the territory to such city or town upon filing and recording a copy of the ordinance, with an accurate map of the territory annexed, certified by the mayor of the city or town, in the office of the county recorder of the county where the annexed territory is located.
'B. The petition submitted to the owners of property for their signature under the provisions of subsection A shall set forth a description of all the exterior boundaries of the entire area proposed to be annexed to the city or town. The petition shall have attached to it at all times an accurate map of the territory desired to be annexed, and no additions or alterations increasing the territory sought to be annexed shall be made after the petition to which it is attached has been signed by any owner of property in such territory, but
a reduction in the territory sought to be annexed may be made.'
It is alleged that the petitions were not those of the property owners of the area since the signatures were solicited by paid city employees having no property interest in the area to be annexed.
A study of A.R.S. § 9-471, subd. B and of its legislative history indicates that the use of paid city employees to secure the signatures on the petitions is not prohibited. A.R.S. § 9-471, subd. B reads, 'The petition submitted to the owners of property * * *.' There is no restriction on who must present or submit the petitions to the property owners and, in turn, on who must present the petitions to the city council. It is our opinion that the voluntary and conscious act of the property owner in signing the petition submitted to him indicates his desire to be annexed regardless of who presents the petition, whether it be a city employee or a fellow property owner.
It is also alleged that the petitions requested the City to only annex 'our property' and not the entire proposed area. The petitions are not invalid because the property owners ask for annexation of 'our property.' The statute above referred to requires only that 'the petition * * * shall set forth a description of all the ...