Last night (8/21/18) the City Council met to discuss parolee housing again. City Council Candidates Jeff Wan and Brian Buddell both participated in the public comment segment of the meeting. Below are their thoughts on last night’s meeting.
REMEMBER: There are 2 seats open in November’s City Council election, and you will be able to vote for 2 candidates.
[one_half padding=”0 0 0 10px”]
Here’s the problem. Even though the Council increased the buffer tonight, it reveals at best a group asleep at the wheel who failed to do their diligence at the July 17 meeting, and is now realizing their mistake. At worst, it shows poor judgment and a stunning lack of commitment to the safety of Clayton residents.
It shows the City Council has forgotten its primary objective – ensuring the safety of the people. And while the Council stumbled around trying to get details for a new ordinance together on the fly at the Aug 21 meeting, the newly proposed ordinance is still badly flawed. That the Council would act so hastily, without regard to community input, is indicative of a Council that isn’t responsive to the needs of Clayton residents.
It’s especially revealing in the way Councilman Shuey talks about the issue. When trying to justify the action of the July 17 meeting, here is what Mr. Shuey said:
“Thus, staff has come up with a proposal that does as much as possible to narrow the risk to Clayton.”
First, we know for a fact that the staff did not come up with a proposal that did as much as possible because at last nights Aug 21 meeting they revised and increased the distance requirement in the newly proposed ordinance. And while we can appreciate the potential risk to the city, this reveals a fundamentally different way of approaching issues.
The first consideration should be the safety of the residents, the risk to the people. But no, if Mr. Shuey would have his way, his first priority is to avoid litigation, the risk to the city itself,but nothing about its residents whom he represents.
So what does changing the buffer to 1000 feet mean to the residents of Clayton? Perhaps the Council would celebrate, pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Hey, they listened (belatedly) and made a change! For everyone else though, that’s NOT what it means. If someone abuses you, but they only leave you bruised instead of breaking your arm, we don’t celebrate the fact that there was only a bruise this time. Here are the take aways for the residents of Clayton:
- The Council acts before weighing all available options
- The Council acts without prioritizing the safety of Clayton residents
- After acting hastily and without due diligence, it was only after candidates for the next election, Jeff Wan and Brian Buddell, and other residents of Clayton spoke out and challenged the Council that they capitulated.
We should have a Council that doesn’t need to react after making terrible choices. We should have a Council that always acts with the best interests and safety of Clayton residents as a priority. A change to the buffer now is a face saving maneuver and a thin smokescreen to obfuscate the poor decision making by the Council.
That is one reason why I’m a candidate for City Council in November and I hope to get your vote.
– Jeff Wan
[one_half_last padding=”0 0 0 30px”]
Last night’s meeting was yet another example of our City Council letting us down and compromising the safety of Clayton citizens in the process.
In considering the parolee housing issue, our illustrious City Council increased the buffer zone to 1000 feet—and then spent a great deal of time patting themselves on the back for “a job well done” in passing “the most restrictive ordinance possible.” However, based upon newly released opinions/analysis from our City Attorney (I’ll get to problems with that shortly) we have learned that the 1000’ buffer incorporated in their new ordinance is still not good enough as it exposes the multi-family units of at least two neighborhoods to parolee housing—including the entirety of Keller Ridge and portions of Shell Ridge. What was particularly disturbing was the ineptitude, dishonesty, cowardice (yes, I said cowardice) and lack of insight/creativity demonstrated by our City Council and staff in taking these actions. I will detail each below:
INEPTITUDE BY CITY ATTORNEY/STAFF
At last month’s City Council meeting, City Attorney Mala Subramanian—along with Community Director Mindy Gentry–produced a report, Power Point and oral presentation in which they stated that imposing a 1000 feet buffer zone would operate as a “de facto ban” (meaning it would operate to ban parolee housing within all areas within Clayton) and, as such, was vulnerable to legal challenge. On that basis, they recommended against adopting such a buffer zone, first recommending a zone of only 300 feet which was later expanded to 500 feet. However, at last night’s meeting—despite the fact that the geography of Clayton has not changed within the past 36 days—Ms. Subramanian stated a 1000’ buffer would NOT operate as a de facto ban and WOULD be legally defensible. Notably, Ms. Subramanian offered no basis for her change of opinion but, given that the geography of Clayton has not changed within the past month, the only logical explanation is because of flawed analysis on her part. Bear in mind that Ms. Subramanian and her law firm are being paid a LOT of money (all on retainer) to conduct an accurate analysis of pending litigation and it is upon her legal “expertise” that our current City Council apparently relies, along with the opinions of Mindy Gentry—who is also paid a hefty salary and was just given a substantial pay raise by the Council. Of course, it should be pointed out that Ms. Gentry did not attend last night’s meeting. Apparently she had more important things to do.
INEPTITUDE BY OUR CITY COUNCIL
The ineptitude was compounded when council member Julie Pierce admitted that the buffer zones could be affected by the existence of licensed child day care facilities throughout Clayton “but they don’t know where they all are.” Huh? You don’t know? Really? In other words, a factor which could drastically affect the proposed ordinance was recognized but not further investigated.
Further incompetence was revealed when it was disclosed that, as written, the proposed ordinance excludes “private” parks (those not on city-owned property such as the “pocket parks” in the Keller Ridge and Dana Hills neighborhoods) as “sensitive use areas” for which a buffer zone would apply—because apparently the kids who play in those parks deserve less protection from parolees than do those that play at city-owned parks. Despite having this flaw pointed out, the City Council ignored the opportunity to amend the ordinance to include them—which would have effectively sealed off the remaining exposed areas—and passed it without such protection in place.
Even more incompetent was the notion of “let’s pass something now because we can always change later.” As anyone with half a brain can figure out, taking a hardline position and then scaling it back is much easier and defensible than taking a weak position and trying to strengthen it—especially if you are concerned with a legal challenge. It is the simple concept of always negotiating from a position of strength, not weakness. By adopting a weaker ordinance, the City Council has effectively painted itself into a corner.
It should also be noted that the “need” for rushing this through is also a problem created by this City Council. When the issue of parolee housing first reared its head back in 2016, the City Council passed a moratorium on parolee housing until October 4, 2018 to allow it to analyze and come up with a plan or ordinance to address it. Despite having two years to accomplish that task, all real was put off until only recently with the first proposed ordinance being presented to the council last month. Meanwhile, city council members attended to other business, including going on taxpayer-funded boondoggles in the form of “important meetings” that just happened to be at vacation destinations around the country. Now, with the expiration of the moratorium looming (which it really isn’t, they can extend it for a short period without any real risk) we are told how “something needs to be done now” and that this is the best they can come up with. With that in mind, is any wonder about why we are getting such weak and incompetent work?
COWARDICE BY OUR CITY COUNCIL
The overriding theme of the past two council meetings and countless postings on Nextdoor.com is a complete lack of backbone by our council members when it comes to fighting for the safety of Clayton. Citing fears of litigation and the costs associated with it, our City Council Members—led by David Shuey—have continually looked for the “easy way out.” Last night, it took the form of Tuija Catalano citing a case involving the City of Hesperion and David Shuey’s dire predictions of what could happen if Clayton dared challenge the mighty State of California in an effort to reasonably protect its safety.
With regard to the Hesperion case, Ms. Catalano totally glossed over the fact that it involved an ordinance which was a total, not de facto, ban and also that the City in that case settled the case before final resolution—so we really don’t know what the result would have been had it gone the distance.
With regard to Shuey’s “legal analysis,” all he did was cite fears of “worst case scenarios” of what “could happen” if Clayton chose to take a hard line on this issue—without any real evidence or legal precedent to support those fears.
Noticeably missing was a desire to fight for the safety and an understanding that, while the fight MIGHT be hard and the monetary price tag MIGHT be high, the safety of Clayton is worth every minute and every penny. Moreover, every citizen who spoke to the subject last night expressed a willingness to take on and fund that fight. Obviously, when an easier and/or less costly way is available, you take it—but not at the expense of our safety.
The shining exception—and for his statements/actions he should be commended—was council member Jim Diaz who: a) admitted that more information/analysis was needed before an ordinance should be adopted; b) advocated increasing the buffer zones, even if it would operate as a de facto ban and face legal challenge; and c) when forced to vote on the ordinance by his colleagues, backed up his words with action by being the only vote against the proposed ordinance.
You’ve heard me say it before and I will say it again: We need better leadership for Clayton.
This is just one piece of legislation but it is hugely important because it could drastically change Clayton FOREVER–and the City Council has demonstrated the competency of the Keystone Cops in dealing with it. They have also shown a weak and reactive approach with a total lack of fight and creativity. Not ok!
In addition to the needs for greater communication between the City Council and the community, we need a City Council that is willing to fight hard and competently for your safety and community values—and they shouldn’t need to hear the desperate and outraged pleas from huge groups of frightened citizens to do so. In other words, we need our City Council to “Do the Right Thing Because It’s the Right Thing to Do” (sound familiar?). You’re just not getting that with this current group.
As a city council member, I will deliver all of the above, along with the experience and grit of a real litigator with a proven record of success. Oh, and I will point out that, if Jeff Wan and I were on the City Council last night (along with Jim Diaz’ “no” vote), this weak ordinance would have gone down to defeat—forcing the City to come up with something better and stronger.
With all that in mind, I hope to get your vote in November.
We need a change, folks…
– Brian Buddell