“Quality of life” Measure L is a backhanded attempt to stop lawsuits against the city of Chico and relieve them of any responsibility from damages caused by their bum camps

4 Sep

I know I been yak-yakking about taxes, but city of Chico has two measures on the ballot – the sales tax increase Measure H, and “Quality of Life” Measure L. Here’s the link to the clerk’s local measures page:

https://buttevotes.net/306/Local-Measures

I’m sorry I didn’t mount a campaign against Measure L, I thought Measure H was more important. But frankly, Measure L is just a pitch for Measure H, and staff time was used to create and market it to the voters. And, ultimately, I believe it is a sneaky, underhanded attempt to get us to us to exempt the city of Chico from the current public nuisance abatement laws by allowing them to be the judge of whether there’s an infraction or not.

Let’s start with the text of Measure L.

TEXT OF MEASURE L: Shall an ordinance which requires the City of Chico be held to abide by the same public nuisance laws it imposes on private landowners by establishing a right for residents uniquely harmed by a public nuisance to demand the abatement of public nuisances by the city on city-owned public property; and requires the city to respond to the demand by abating the alleged nuisance or providing the reason for its refusal, limited to prescribed justifications, be adopted?

The biggest problem I see here is the assertion that the city is not held to the same public nuisance laws as private property owners. We already have a mechanism for holding a landowner responsible, public or private – like Karl Ory and his friends, we can take the city to court when they don’t uphold the laws. And there’s plenty of laws not being upheld around here. Look at this website – according to these definitions, Bidwell Park is not only a public nuisance but a drowning hazard and a toxic waste dump.

https://library.municode.com/ca/commerce/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TIT9PESAMO_CH9.32PUNUAB

One Mile, at which at least one person is found drowned each year, is unfenced and unsupervised. Read for yourself – according to the California muni code, the city is not only responsible for the nuisance but responsible for abating the nuisance. And even levying fines on itself. Interesting what you find out when you do your own research.

And how about the term “uniquely harmed“? In earlier discussions, it was revealed that a citizen has to live within very close proximity to a complaint site, adjacent, next door to it, in order to make a complaint. Meaning, if you live near a camp, and they come around to steal the water from your garden hose, along with anything that ain’t nailed down in your yard, then rummage your car, well, that camp down the street is not for you to complain about, because it’s not right next door to your house.

And then there’s this – “limited to prescribed justifications”. What does that mean? Well, according to Cornell Law School, justification is “A type of defense that exempts the defendant from liability because the defendant’s actions were justified.  In other words, a defendant with a valid justification will not suffer the usual penalty for his actions because in the eyes of the court, the defendant could not have been asked to act any differently in this situation.

Do you think this works the same way when the defendant is the court? Because this ordinance allows the city to determine whether or not the complaint is valid. Or simply, “the city disagrees that a public nuisance exists on the property…” And sit down for this one – “it is not in the best interest of the city to abate the nuisance…” What the hell does that mean? (rhetorical question)

There are so many things wrong with this ordinance, including an attempt to avoid liability, that I’m saying, just vote NO. Below is the “impartial analysis” of the guy who wrote it? That sounds, hmmmm, weird. I’ve highlighted statements that illustrate my points above, but read it for yourself – it’s an expensive campaign tool to convince us they will be accountable with Measure H. Don’t buy it folks, it’s just another bottle of snake oil.

IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE L
CITY ATTORNEY IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS
Measure L asks voters to approve an ordinance revising Chapter 1.14 of Title 1
of the City’s Municipal Code (“Ordinance”). The Ordinance would hold the City
of Chico (“City”) to the same public nuisance standards as private property
ownersin the City. The conditions which exist upon private property constituting
a public nuisance under Chapter 1.14 of the City of Chico Municipal Code
(“CMC”) may also qualify as a public nuisance on City owned public property. To
accomplish the goal of increasing quality of life in the City, the Ordinance
provides a process for residents to demand abatement of a public nuisance on
City owned public property. Any resident specially injured by a public nuisance
may submit a demand to the City to abate the alleged public nuisance. Upon
receipt of the demand, the City must analyze the demand and investigate the
conditions in the demand.
The City is required to provide a response to the
resident within 20 business days of receipt of the demand.
The City’s response to the demand will notify the resident that either 1) the City
agrees to abate the public nuisance and to provide a time by which it expects
abatement to be completed, or 2) the City denies the demand to abate the
alleged public nuisance and the reason(s) for denial.
The possible grounds for denial of a resident’s demand include:

  1. The City does not own the property and is therefore not the appropriate
    party to abate a nuisance on the property;
  2. The City disagrees that a public nuisance exists on the property;
  3. The resident has not proven a special injury from the public nuisance;
  4. The City is not legally permitted to abate the nuisance; and/or
  5. It is not in the City’s best interest to abate the public nuisance.

The Ordinance does not include a monetary penalty against the City for denying
a resident demand to abate an alleged public nuisance. It further does not
provide residents an appeal process
if the demand is denied. The Ordinance may
be amended by the City Council upon a two thirds vote of the members
of the
Council, but only to further the purposes of the Ordinance.
A “YES” vote on Measure L is to adopt the Ordinance. A “NO” vote on Measure L
is to not adopt the Ordinance.
The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure L. If you desire a copy
of the Ordinance or measure, a copy is available from the City Clerk’s office.
s/Vincent Ewing, City of Chico Attorney

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