A Sonoma group that is seeking limits on hotel expansion in the city has taken the first steps to get the initiative before voters.

The Preserving Sonoma Committee is seeking to prevent new construction or expansion of existing hotels to more than 25 rooms until Sonoma's hotel occupancy rate exceeds 80 percent on an annual basis. In 2012, the rate was just under 65 percent.

The group's main focus is developer Darius Anderson's proposal to build a luxury hotel and spa on West Napa Street a half-block from the Plaza. Anderson is a principal of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat.

The committee submitted its proposed ballot measure to the city attorney, who has until Tuesday to assign a title and summary of the measure that will be included in petitions the group plans to circulate in town.

To qualify for a special election, petitioners must gather 1,017 signatures, or 15 percent of the city's 6,782 registered voters. The cost of the special election, estimated to be between $20,322 and $33,870, would be borne by the city.