SLO residents need to fight for public participation

May 4, 2017

Allan Cooper

OPINION by ALLAN COOPER

It is ironic that on the same night that the San Luis Obispo City Council received a Davenport Institute Platinum Award for civic engagement they also discussed limiting public comment to a total of 15 minutes, with each speaker limited to one minute.

The Davenport Institute is dedicated to the following: “Greater public participation and trust in local government fosters more effective local representative democracy in California.” In light of this, it’s not clear how the Davenport Institute rationalized making this award. Many of us believe that public trust in our San Luis Obispo City government is at an all-time low. Why?

Because this discussion on placing limits on public comments came after the city settled a lawsuit over a rental housing inspection program.

In the public eye settlements are almost always seen as tacit admissions of wrongdoing. Yet the city attorney had the audacity to characterize this lawsuit as both “opportunistic and without merit.”

Because this discussion came on the heels of raising non-applicant appeal fees from $281 to $683 in spite of wide public opposition and because over the past three years neighborhood groups in San Luis Obispo have filed and lost nine appeals. These appeals were lost even though the council chamber had been filled many times to capacity with appeal supporters, in spite of hours of impassioned public testimony and after the council had received numerous letters of support.

This ominous pattern of denial on both the previous and current council’s part suggests that their minds are already made up well before hearing our public testimony. If this is true, truncating the process clearly makes sense.

All of this should explain why many of us will be in attendance at the May 16 council meeting to protest this latest, brazen attempt to further limit public participation in local government.







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10 Comments

  1. mary margaret says:

    Our Mayor and City Council are attempting to silence the residents. They’re taking away our ability to participate in city government. Maybe they can just lock the door to the Council Chambers and keep out the pesky taxpayers. They are even out of touch with those of us who voted for them. This is what we get when the Chamber of Commerce and overpaid city staff has way too much influence and well-paid consultants churn out reports that are hundreds of pages long and the Council just votes with the recommendations of City Attorney Detrick, department heads and staff. You know that it all flows downhill from Ms. Katie Lichtig. It’s time to throw the bums out. Just wait until the next election.

    (21) 23 Total Votes - 22 up - 1 down
    • r0y says:

      …except I’ve been waiting election after election after election.

      We sat through Jan Marx for how many years? We’ve put up with all kinds of mismanagement and poor leadership for many elections, and here we are. You think something magical will happen before the next election? I sure hope you’re right.

      (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down
      • easymoney says:

        Out of the park home run, Roy.

        This is exactly what is the biggest problem facing the once great state of California.
        We have witnessed over and over again a complete lack of respect for the voting public, who pay the bills. Including all the unfunded pensions and perks our “public servants” get.

        Einstein once said doing the same thing over and over expecting change, is insanity…

        (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
  2. Reality Check says:

    Another shameless attack on the Brown Act and the First Amendment. Just because the council members don’t want to hear the public; or doesn’t agree with the public; or doesn’t want to act on the public preference; the residents have a right to be heard.

    If Council members don’t want to do the job, which includes listening to the residents in public hearings, they should resign and do something less demanding. Three minutes is already a very brief amount of time for a resident to make their point.

    Its also distressing that the Council so often doesn’t listen or act in the interests of the residents. What are the residents thinking to elect these folks who are conspiring to block fully hearing residents on issues? Maybe residents need to make changes at the ballot box.

    (22) 26 Total Votes - 24 up - 2 down
    • Ricky2 says:

      Changes at the ballot box for sure, but also need to fire city manager and city attorney, who wrap council members around their thumbs.

      (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
      • easymoney says:

        Also, it is time to question “staff reports” that go unchallenged to the bureaucrats to approve and fund, through us but around us voters…

        (11) 11 Total Votes - 11 up - 0 down
  3. rjakelian says:

    Something’s fishy…

    (22) 26 Total Votes - 24 up - 2 down
  4. 1965buick says:

    This is the doing of Lichtig & Dietrich. I can hardly believe Harmon wants a part of that.
    What you get from sleezeball lawyers. The scum of the Earth.

    (27) 35 Total Votes - 31 up - 4 down
    • kayaknut says:

      I wouldn’t count Harmon out as being part of this, so far she has been a disappointment, just a lot of the same in a different package.

      (20) 28 Total Votes - 24 up - 4 down
      • Ricky2 says:

        Harmon initiated the discussion of one-minute limit, and gave every indication she favored it. (She doesn’t believe in democracy, regardless of what her social media stream may claim. She does whatever Lichtig tells her to do.) Then the council majority voted to put it on the agenda for a future meeting. Oh, and the issue wasn’t on the agenda, so discussing it at all was a clear Brown Act violation. But, hey, our worthless city attorney told them they could correct that by agendizing it at their next meeting.

        Now if any resident comes with something they want on the agenda, would it be at the next meeting? Six months if at all. Crooked and stupid to the core.

        (18) 20 Total Votes - 19 up - 1 down

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