How Does the City Stop Activists? Price Them Out of Existence!
The successful effort to stop Home Depot from opening in Sunland-Tujunga was based, largely in part, on the legal arguments made in the Appeals filed by the No Home Depot Campaign.
This fee increase is not just a routine periodic adjustment. If the City Council approves this measure, an Appeal to a Building & Safety determination will increase from a few hundred dollars to over $5000.00.
This will essentially stifle the rights of individuals and organizations to challenge many decisions made by the downtown cogs who tend to rubber stamp any application put before them.
From Ron Kaye:
On Tuesday, the City Council intends -- having bungled its first attempt two months ago -- to take another stab at stripping ordinary citizens of their constitutional right to petition for redress of grievances, specifically planning decisions.
Under the ordinance adopted unanimously, of course, on Aug. 12, fees to appeal planning decisions and Building and Safety actions were supposed to skyrocket from nominal amounts to thousands of dollars except for developers of major projects. They would get a reduction on many of the appeals they file.
What was wrong with the ordinance, apart from many of the fees -- apart from various typos and fees being supposedly being incorrectly listed -- is that the public wasn't given proper notice that the fee schedule affected appeals. Most of the public discussion and the agenda notice only referred to application fees which were raised to guarantee developers speedy processing.
And from Daniel Wright:
The People may have voted for a right to appeal to Area Planning Commissions in the 1999 City Charter, but if the Council approves the ordinance tomorrow, the Area Planning Commissioners will not have much to do. The cost of prosecuting a land use appeal in the City of Los Angeles will skyrocket beyond the financial means of most households, small businesses, and community-based organizations. Only the wealthy and big corporations will be able to appeal land use decisions that affect them. The little guy, overwhelmingly in communities of lower income and racial minorities, will be squashed by the fee increases.
It is obvious that developers and downtown special interests are behind this ordinance in their never ending quest to quash community advocates.
From the emails I am receiving, if this goes through, the shit is going to hit the fan! We'll be watching the votes of the Councilmembers, and will report the results here tomorrow.
UPDATE: The CC has decided, after a couple of hours of debate, to hold action on this ordinance and will take up the matter again tomorrow.