Planning commissioner says City Council project appeal process illegal

July 18, 2003
Santa Paula City Council

A member of the city’s Planning Commission questioned whether or not an appeal before the City Council was a proper hearing and said she might initiate legal action.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesA member of the city’s Planning Commission questioned whether or not an appeal before the City Council was a proper hearing and said she might initiate legal action.At issue at the July 7th meeting was a proposed development next to Isbell School where the applicant seeks to build 28 apartments and 10 retail spaces. The Planning Commission did not approve the project on a 3-2 vote and the applicant went to the council for consideration.Rita Graham, a member of the Planning Commission speaking as a private citizen, said that the project presented to the council is not the same that was considered by the commission and questioned whether or not the appeal should be considered.Interim Assistant City Attorney Daniel Ballin noted that the law allows the appeal.“I’m putting the council on notice that if the city attorney is not correct I will consider appealing this to the courts,” said Graham.The council is overlooking the “technical advisory services” of the commission, she added.“The council should not overrule a planning commission decision with only five commissioners” out of the seven seated for the hearing, another reason that the applicant should return to the commission, said Graham.The commission did not deny the project and “this council” waived $150,000 in development impact fees.The architect said the applicant “wanted to do a quality project downtown. . .this is not a quality project and it’s not downtown,” said Graham. “It’s another case when proponents don’t know Santa Paula,” and a concept review should have been presented to the commission prior to the application.Vice Mayor Gabino Aguirre asked Ballin to again review the municipal code giving the council appeal powers.
The project is not subject to pay impact fees since it was already in process when the council adopted such fee requirements in April, Aguirre noted.“You’re contention is that this is an improper hearing?” Aguirre asked Graham.“Yes,” she replied.“Given the opinion you have just stated that you would take it to the courts. . .” said Aguirre.“I said I would consider it,” noted Graham.“On your behalf or on behalf of the planning commission?” asked Aguirre.“My behalf,” said Graham. “I’m not speaking on behalf of the planning commission.”City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that as the project is “not subject to impact fees, there was no waiver. . .”Alternatives offered to the council by the Planning Department included original project as presented to the commission said Tom Bartlett, planning director.Ultimately, the council continued the hearing to allow a meeting between the developer and Santa Paula Elementary School District officials to resolve issues of concern to the latter. Apartments will be market rate with several set-aside per council direction for low-income renters.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.