City Council: revised Draft Housing Element meeting scheduled for June 7th

May 25, 2001
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesStaff and the consultant hired to guide the city through the state mandated update of the General Plan’s Housing Element were criticized at the May 7 meeting of the City Council after it was learned that the city may have been on the path of violating government codes.At April 16 council meeting, Mayor Don Johnson had urged that the Draft Housing Element - the subject before the council and Planning Commissioners at a February workshop - as is; Johnson said he feared that any more delay to include council, commission and public comment from the workshop could pit the city against state deadlines and possible financial penalties.Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa said the document could not be forwarded without February comment included in a sharp exchange with Johnson.At the May 7 meeting, the council was asked to take action on setting a new date for adoption of a revised Draft Housing Element.Espinosa took the city manager, consultant - which has billed the city over $56,000 - and planning department to task for trying to forward the document excluding the comment from council, commissioners and the public as such a move would have been in violation of government code.Government code also requires that the Planning Commission consider the document separately and pass on recommendations to the council, Espinosa added.
Johnson noted his original request to consider the original Draft Housing Element was pulled from the agenda and a new schedule for hearings was being considered. Johnson said that he did not have all the information when the original agenda item was requested and after discovering the new Element was ready asked that his agenda item be pulled. The city council set June 7th as the new date to hear the revised Draft Housing Element.“. . .this is very important to the community and its future,” said Espinosa. Staff attempts to “exclude or minimize public input is a continuing problem. . .it’s really unconscionable.”“We’ll read about this in a memo to the Department of Justice in a month or so,” said Councilman Rick Cook, who noted that a complaint about the bumpy road traveled by the Draft Housing Element had been filed with the federal agency. In addition, “we can’t assume the state won’t seek retribution,” for the delay in document completion, initially due in state hands in September 2000.

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