Happy 2018! One of my resolutions for the New Year is to return to more regular newsletters and website updates. I have posted over twenty new articles updating you on various projects and issues of interest to the District- there is so much happening that it is truly a challenge to keep up.
Since I started this newsletter in 2011, our sources for information on community issues have increased significantly. With the advent of Next Door as a neighborhood based social media connection, and the coverage provided by The Resident Community News there are many more opportunities for you to obtain information on local issues. Nevertheless, I think my updates can still serve a valuable purpose and offer a different perspective on various issues.
I know there are several hot button issues in the District that have frustrated many of you- the event rental on Kelnepa and the new development on San Jose and drainage issues it has caused, are two examples. I am probably as frustrated, or more so, than you by these situations where my only tools are to introduce new prospective legislation and to push others for answers and enforcement. I have been engaged on both issues and working to achieve resolutions that protect our community without trampling on the constitutional or property rights of private landowners. Unfortunately, I do not have the legal authority to stop any misuse of property or violation of local or state law.
As your City Council representative I have the authority to introduce legislation – but that legislation does not retroactively impact any permit that was granted. I do not have enforcement power or the ability to fine, cite, suspend permits, or the like. I can push the City employees who have those responsibilities and who are part of the Executive branch working for the Mayor- to look very closely at the rules, fine when appropriate, revoke permits when warranted, and enforce the existing codes. The Mayor’s Office has been on top of both of these issues and nothing but helpful. In the case of Kelnepa, the matter is now in the hands of our lawyers to ask a court to enforce our City code. In the case of the San Jose lots, it is clear that our existing code and the state regulations that permit fill on properties such as this are inadequate to prevent the damage to adjacent properties we have witnessed. Our City Planning Department has promised to draft suggested revisions to the code that would address some of the issues we have encountered, but the Water Management District permitted the filling. The lots were platted as residential lots for decades and no zoning change was required so the owner simply pulled permits to fill and begin development. I wish I had had the opportunity to vote on some aspect of the project, but there was nothing the owner needed that required Council approval. The Mayor’s staff assures me the permits were issued properly and could not have been withheld.
Does that explanation make the adverse impacts on neighbors any less? Of course not. The most frustrating challenges I have faced in office are the disputes among adjacent property owners over the application of our ordinances. In most of these circumstances, there are few winners. But as in the case of Rio Lindo where I subsequently introduced legislation to change our requirements regarding driveway location, I have hopefully improved the regulations for the future. I will continue to work to do so for the District and our City.
Please take a look at the many article links to the right and take the Pedestrian Quiz!
As always, I remain honored to serve as your representative.