Archive for February, 2011
February 2nd, 2011
Cannon Engineering finished new 5 reports that the Planning Dept requested as part of my building application. Dave Watson immediately turned them into Ryan Hostetter. Ryan indicated to Dave that she was very busy and wouldn’t be able to do any work on my permit application for the next couple of months.
Gee, thanks Ryan! You order me to deliver tens of thousands of dollars worth of geologic and engineering work, and then you let it rot on your desk for a while.
Ryan also complained to Dave about having to read though thousands of pages of emails because of my Public Records Act Request. Apparently, pesky citizens like me use up her valuable time with demands about our constitutional rights – when she could be more productively inventing new regulations about the proper paint colors of interior walls, or what types of shag carpeting should be allowed! And no, I am not making this up. Ryan Hostetter was put in charge of the new county “Green” ordinances, which will regulate the types of interior paint and carpeting allowed in both new and remodeled constuction. The end result will be that if you live in SLO County and you want to repaint your bathroom you will need to get permission from Ryan. Which is insane.
February 13th, 2011
Here is the code citation:
“15107. Completion of Negative Declaration
With private projects involving the issuance of a lease, permit, license, certificate, or other entitlement for use by one or more public agencies, the negative declaration must be completed and approved within 180 days from the date when the lead agency accepted the application as complete.
Note: Authority cited: Section 21083, Public Resources Code; Reference: Sections 21100.2 and 21151.5, Public Resources Code.”
The Planning Dept missed the CEQA Negative Declaration deadline. Of course.
This is a real problem for me because the only remedy under the CEQA Act is to sue the Planning Dept to force them to complete the Negative Declaration. Remember, the Negative Declaration is just a short report from the Planning Dept that says that there are no, or possibly insignificant, environmental issues with building my house. This is definitely NOT rocket science. I am building a house in a properly zoned area, with an approved parcel map, on a former cattle ranch, that has a housing development on one side and an abandoned oil tank farm on the other. A Negative Declaration could be done easily in one day given all of the information that I have already turned in.
At this point I have to decide to just wait to see if they will eventually do their job, or to go ahead and sue the Planning Dept to force them to do their job. Suing the Planning Dept is very expensive and time consuming for both SLO County and me. I hope it doesn’t come to that.
February 14th, 2011
I met with James Orton and Shannon Matuszewicz today at the SLO County Counsel’s office. The meeting was very cordial. I apologized for causing so much extra work for them because of my Public Records Request, which generated about 17,000 pages of emails. There weren’t actually that many unique emails (only about 200), but because of the quirks of SLO County’s email archiving system, my request generated hundreds and hundreds of duplicated emails.
I did ask them about this email:
Specifically, I wanted to know about the two referenced emails at the bottom of Kami’s email. These emails look relevant and yet I did not get a copy of them. Jim and Shannon said they would get me a copy of those two additional emails.
But something else came out of this meeting. I mentioned to James and Shannon that my purpose in using the Public Records Act was to understand the decision process of the Planning Dept – specifically how the Planning Dept could come up with decisions that have twice been overruled by the Planning Commission. Then James said something interesting – (paraphrasing because I can’t remember his exact words) – “Well, you didn’t really win at the Planning Commission, and you are not going to win at the Coastal Commission”.
I asked James to elaborate, and he said that the Coastal Commission backs the views of the Planning Dept staff. It was clear that James Orton also backs the Planning Dept staff. I wasted a little time disagreeing, and then said nice to meet you both, good bye, and left.
Now this is interesting for this reason: James is a Deputy County Counsel, and his job is to be a legal advisor for the Board of Supervisors. Each Supervisor appoints his own Planning Commissioner. So in my case, this lawyer for the Board of Supervisors (James Orton) has decided to defend the decisions of the Planning Dept, and to oppose the decisions of the Planning Commissioners.
Or in even plainer language, James Orton can support the public policy decisions of his elected bosses, or he can support the public policy decisions of the unelected Planning staff. He has clearly chosen to support the unelected staff decisions.
Once again, I am sure that our Supervisor Adam Hill has no idea that this is what is going on. I know that Adam Hill believes that it is his job, as one of the highest elected public officials in our county government, to set public policy, that it is his staff’s job is to carry out that public policy, and that the staff should not create and execute public policy on their own.
UPDATE: I later got the two missing emails from James Orton, and they are here.
February 17th, 2011
After the February 14 AVAC meeting I noticed that the new proposed boundaries for AVAC included the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, Port San Luis Harbor, and the new State Wild Cherry Canyon state park – as well as Cave Landing. So I sent an email to Adam:
You have to admit that the idea of of AVAC scrutinizing a nuclear power plant at the same time they are unable to get one of their members to act as secretary to record their minutes is funny stuff.
February 20th, 2011
On Sept 22, 2010 I made a request to the CLO County Counsel’s office for all of the emails that went to or came from Ryan Hostetter’s email address during the period of June 1, 2010 to Sept 22, 2010 that had anything to do with my permit application. The County Counsel, Warren Jensen, agreed to my request (as he was legally obligated to do), and so I started getting batches of emails in .PDF format from the County. I ended up getting somewhere around 17,000 pages of emails in 211 large PDFs. That seems like quite a lot, but in fact they were mostly the same few emails repeated hundreds and hundreds of times. I think that there were only about 200 emails in total.
All of the original PDFs have the naming format “lightspeed #.pdf”. The other PDFs are pages that I have extracted out of the original PDFs so that my blog posts that reference them display faster.
I also don’t think that the Planning Dept was screwing with me by sending 17,000 pages. I just think that their email archiving system doesn’t allow an easy way to pull out a subset of a single person’s emails, and so this was the best they could do.
For other people who are fighting with the Planning Dept it is important to note that all county emails are saved, and they are all public records. You just have to ask for them (and pay the price of copying) to get them yourself.
February 22nd, 2011
After waiting about month since we turned in all the additional engineering and geology reports that the Planning Dept asked for, Dave Watson finally lost his patience and sent this letter to Ryan Hostetter:
Dave’s point is that no matter which you pick as the official “filing date” – the Planning Dept has stalled and stalled and now we are either past the maximum 180 day time period as mandated by State law, or with the most generous interpretation of the rules, within two weeks of it.
Ryan missed the 30 day Initial Study deadline, and now the 180 day CEQA Negative Declaration deadline. These are all the mandated state deadlines for agencies like the Planning Dept, and Ryan missed all of them. A suspicious person might believe that Ryan is purposely delaying as much as possible.