Dietrick slams judge’s ruling as judicial misinterpretation

July 9, 2012

Christine Dietrick


Frustrated by a judge’s ruling that bars San Luis Obispo police from ticketing homeless people sleeping in their vehicles, the city council Tuesday will consider an emergency ordinance seeking a way to continue the practice. City Attorney Christine Dietrick called San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall’s decision “judicial misinterpretation.”

The city attorney is recommending council adoption of an emergency ordinance adding to the health, safety and welfare section of the city’s municipal code, which would specifically allow police to immediately restart its program of ticketing sleeping homeless.

To a clause in the present ordinance that reads, “Existing and new structures should reflect adopted safety standards,” Dietrick wants to add new language in order “to prevent the immediate threats to the public health, safety, and welfare associated with the conduct of living in vehicles in unsuitable areas within the city, including on local public streets.”

Dietrick has not yet produced a staff report or draft ordinance for public review. Instead, Dietrick says she will make the staff report and draft ordinance available prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

In April, local attorneys Saro Rizzo and Stew Jenkins filed a lawsuit accusing the city of San Luis Obispo and the chief of police of discrimination, harassment and the criminalization of homeless people because of its January-enacted plan to ticket homeless using a 30-year-old development ordinance prohibiting people from living in vehicles on private property.

Rizzo and Jenkins also noted that a vehicle code ordinance implemented by Santa Barbara that prohibits people from sleeping in their cars and RVs on city streets was deemed illegal by an appellate court because of insufficient signage. In San Luis Obispo, there is no signage prohibiting people from sleeping in vehicles.

In May, Judge Crandall took motions from both the city and the attorneys for the homeless residents under submission, and urged the city to voluntarily refrain from issuing citations while the issue was under discussion. The city elected instead to ramp up its late night raids.

Last week, Crandall granted Jenkins and Rizzo a preliminary injunction that prohibits police from ticketing homeless who sleep in their vehicles until the end of the trial noting the city’s unconstitutional treatment of the homeless.

“In addition to using an enforcement strategy that appears to be singling out poor and homeless people for harsher treatment, the court is very uneasy with the specific manner in which the police have apparently been enforcing Standard 015 and issuing criminal citations,” Crandall said. “These methods include but are not limited to, the use of late-night police forays needlessly utilizing flashing lights, blaring horns, intimidation, threats and other scare tactics.”

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Brillant, just brilliant! So the judge rules against the City and now it appears that the City attorney in her infinite wisdom is out making disingenuous comments about the judge. And to top it all off, now the City leaders are recreating a legal basis for their plan of attack on the homeless in SLO. Now this will really show the judge who is in charge. Can’t wait for the motion or injunctive relief sought by Rizzo and Jenson. Hmm, how will that motion read – Judge Rules in Plaintiffs favor, so Defendant reinvents a new strategy to accomplish the same goal? So, I wonder how the judge will rule on this – sanctions, injunctive relief and maybe a letter to the state bar seeking disciplinary actions against the City attorney. One can only hope!

Sad thing is that the economically less fortunate will suffer at the hands of the City leaders and the tax payers will pick up the tab after many, many lawsuits are filed on behalf of those less fortunate who have had their inalienable rights violated.


Hey, Christine Dietrick, before Jesus, why don’t you try and misinterpret these inspired passages from our Christian Bible?!

Jesus said; “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” Galatians 2:10

Jesus said: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless.” ( Proverbs 31:8)

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11)

If you presume to be a Christian, you are no longer a member of our faith. Your type make Jesus and I sick, all the time going after the poor of SLO town, and without lending a hand, other than to slap them down again!

Besides being a second class woman, as blatantly described within the scriptures, you’ll certainly meet a fiery death upon your demise for taking your ungodly position that you have!

Furthermore, what the hell are you doing being a woman and conducting yourself as the city attorney, therefore, holding the authority over the man? “Let the women learn is silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, NOT TO USURP THE AUTHORITY OVER THE MAN, but to be in silence!” (Timothy 2:11-12) Barring the fact that you’re not SILENT, you’re overstepping your grounds in a biblical way.

You can be assured that our ever loving and forgiving Jesus will be holding the hottest place in Hell for you upon your demise. Praise Jesus’ revenge!

Was this another poor recommendation to the City Council and staff by the City Attorney? Dietrick was out-lawyered by Rizzo and Jenkins. It appears the only way she can protect her ego is by slamming the judge. Maybe the city needs to hire either Rizzo or Jenkins as the city attorney.

I do not believe it is the City Attorney or the SLO police who obviously are hell bent on harassing the homeless.

They do not act on their own and carry out their own agenda.

They are directed by the CITY COUNCIL and the CITY MANAGER.

And that is who is responsible for the war on the homeless in SLO.

It’s so simple, just make it illegal to be poor and homeless. That way everyone will have money and a home. Or else!

You can read Dietrick’s employment agreement here: She makes a base salary of $155,000 a year, plus benefits. Maybe if she took a small cut in her salary to help pay for a homeless shelter, there would be no need to issue parking tickets to people with no money to pay them. But then how could she justify her salary?

And how much of your salary do you give to the homeless?

In short, way overpaid.

Why does everyone think that because someone happens to make more money than they do, they are overpaid? I don’t know Ms. Dietrick, but I do know that she spent 7-10 years in college/graduate school, passed the California bar exam, and could probably make $250,000 per year or more in the private sector. Therefore, I’d say her salary is about where it ought to be. Granted, she certainly makes more than I do, but I spent 7-10 years in college and studied at a different bar (if you know what I mean). :)

“and studied at a different bar (if you know what I mean)”

+1 for relevant user name

I think many people believe a city’s attorney should be representing the best interests of the city’s residents. In that, she sucks, and would be getting paid about $154,000 too much.

However, the city attorney’s real job is to protect the city, its managers, council members, and their decisions.

In that, she’s a lot better and certainly is much cheaper than some attorneys.

There is no problem with people making a salary based on their qualifications. The City Council needs to reconsider Dietrick’s performance. Rizzo and Jenkins made convincing legal arguments to the Judge and the first thing Dietrick does is to insult the Judge. In short, Rizzo and Jenkins did a better job doing their legal work and Dietrick is crying like a baby because she lost.

Did they do a better job? Or is the judge a dunce?

One thing is for certain: Dietrick, as an attorney, is a dunce for publicly condemning the judge. She has done a disservice to her client.

I agree, Dante.

I get the impression Dietrick was sand-bagged—she wasn’t expecting that decision from the judge. Clearly, it is never a good idea for a city attorney to insult judges.

In the power differential between Dietrick and a judge, the judge has far more power.

Throughout her career at SLOCity, she will need the goodwill of the judges. Otherwise, her job–and her life–becomes far more difficult.

She got one insult in to the judge–but he has the power to pay her back every time the city seeks judicial help.

And, judges talk to each other. If she publicly bad-mouths one judge when disagreeing with a decision, there’s a good chance she will publicly bad mouth other judges.

I love the quote:

Who is the judge?

The judge is God.

Why is he God?

Because he decides whether I win or lose, not my opponent.

As the City Attorney is appointed by the City Council, are they disappointed enough to rescind her appointment?

Are you kidding? They worship the ground she walks on. When she says “Jump!” they respond “How high?”

She has certain city pols scared. Why? I don’t know. Could be a vicious fox-devil .

All I know is that the worst people in any society are those that pick on the people that are already down on their luck.

Dietrick has not been looking for solutions…she’s been looking for a fight.

Sounds like a traditional “old school” attorney. SLO needs an attorney who does not have a”fight at all cost attitude”. Where did she go to law school?

She does the council’s bidding, and as long as she does that, they won’t get rid of her….unless she makes a really big mistake.

I don’t know if insulting a judge is a “big mistake” as far as the SLO City Council is concerned, but I certainly think it is a big mistake that will have repercussions for Dietrick and SLO City.

It certainly seems to me that the judge was basically saying for the city to rewrite their ordinance in order for it to be within a Constitutional framework; apparently Ms. Dietrick thought she had done that and that is why she is upset at the judge. Too bad since the judge is “doing his job”, perhaps Ms. Dietrick should focus on doing hers and come up with a solution that not only addresses the problems of the homeless parking and camping on public streets, but does so in a manner that does not trample on their Constitutional rights and does not require that they pay such a huge percentage of their meager income in order to qualify for the program to get into a house or apartment.

Ms. Dietrick, please settle down and do what is required of you, earn your very generous wage and serve the people of San Luis Obispo.

Well said.

I don’t believe that she was involved in crafting the law that was being challenged. She had the unpleasant task of defending the unconstitutional enforcement of a zoning law. So of course she knew she would lose and look like a fool, so she’s doing what’s understandable — fight back, even though it makes her look even more foolish.

If she was worth her salt, she would have advised the council against police enforcement of the zoning ordinance in the first place, and would have suggested a legal and ethical solution.

She did neither.


If she was worth her salt, she would have advised the council against police enforcement of the zoning ordinance in the first place, and would have suggested a legal and ethical solution.

We don’t know what she advised the City Council, if anything, about how SLO City residents who live in transportable housing are treated. There is a lot that goes on behind closed doors, and not just in closed session.

This is how it goes: the city council comes up with a plan or policy, runs it by the city attorney, the city attorney opines on it, then the city council does what it wants to do.

Dietrick isn’t in place to serve the people of SLO City. She is there to serve the city council, management, and sometimes workers.

Those who have transportable homes are residents of SLO City, too. Dietrick certainly is not serving them.

I agree with your admonition to her to “settle down.” She’s creating unnecessary problems for herself and for the city.

If you look at Christine’s picture she sure looks like Christine Mullholland and if you look at her dislike of homeless I say it may run in the gene pool. Maybe it is just in the name “Christine” but these people need to help solve the homeless issues but abuse the homeless. I am fully aware there are big problems with matter, but mistreating these people is not the solution. Why can’t we see what has worked in Santa Barbara and what has not and start there. Whoever is leading this cause at the City is certainly not helping the cause. Taking 5 people off the street at the cost of $80,000 is not a long term solution. Certainly we can do better and where is the Council and Mayor on this issue, burying their heads in the sand. Elections are coming!!!!