Chronology of Code Changes

Including Apparent Brown Act & CEQA Violations

See Related Story on Code Changes

• October 11, 2007 - The City Council, acting on an agendized item, created the Municipal Code Update Committee, appointing two Council members and the Chair of the Planning Commission. It was stated that public meetings would be held.

• Subsequent to Creation - On at least 2 occasions a resident attempted to attend Code Committee meetings, but was turned away, told that the meetings weren't open to the public.

• January 21, 2008 - A public meeting of the Code Committee to take input. Staff had mailed invitations/notices to builders, architects, engineers, and people building.
No such mailed notice was provided to the general public.
Favorable comments from the building community. Good suggestions noting unintended consequences were never followed up on.

• March 2008 - It became apparent to a resident that the Code Committee had not held their meetings in public as required by the Brown Act.

• April 22, 2008 - Code changes recommended by the Code Committee agendized for the Planning Commission. City Attorney announces there was a Brown Act challenge to Committee meetings, and stated there would be an upcoming public meeting of the Code Committee. City Attorney states no Brown Act violation occurred. Commission Chair affirmed that the presented changes were from the Code Committee.
Chair and Vice-Chair of Planning Commission state that it would be best to postpone their hearing pending the outcome of the public Code Committee meeting and possible changes to their recommendations.
Staff and City Attorney dissuaded Commissioners from postponing the Code hearing.

• May 22, 2008 - A public meeting of the Code Committee, with the minimum legal notice, was held. Testimony was given by residents opposing the Code changes, citing specific problems. Code Committee revised their original recommendations based on testimony and discussion.
The direction given to staff on 4 items, for new recommendations to be brought to the Planning Commission, was:
1. Eliminate all but turf block from consideration as being a hardscape exemption for required parking spaces.
2. Add that for consideration as a single story structure at least 80% must be below 16 feet in height.
3. Add additional findings to allow a larger standards modification limit for driveways for those with true hardships.
4. Set an upper limit on the area of a pool that can be exempted from hardscape.

• May 27, 2008 - At the Planning Commission meeting, the City Attorney stated the Code Committee had held a hearing and had come up with “suggestions” which the Commission could consider or not.
Staff said that Grading exemptions associated with the proposed hardscape exemptions had been forgotten to be included and would be brought forward at the June meeting.

• June 3, 2008 - A letter was presented to the City stating that CEQA would need to be followed in proceeding with the Code Changes.

• June 24, 2008 - Planning Commission was presented with Code language represented as having come from the May 22 Code Committee meeting, however it was not only not what the Committee decided, it was so confusing and inapplicable that the Commission dismissed it. Chair acknowledged language missing from May 22 meeting.
At least 2 members declared that they wanted to recommend to the Council that it was not necessary to make any Code changes regarding hardscape as sufficient discretion exists already in the Code.
Staff and City Attorney told the Commission they could not do that, and their only choices were to recommend their April 22md recommendations or the (incorrect) language before them that night.
Commission reluctantly chose the April 22nd language provided that progress be monitored for 6 months to see how it was working.
City continues to maintain that Code Committee was just an “ad hoc” committee.
No CEQA document presented.

• July 9, 2008 - Announcement that Code Committee was disbanded. There was no agendized item regarding the dissolution of this Council created committee.

• July 9, 2008 - City Council presented with Code language for first reading, represented as having come from the April 22nd Planning Commission meeting. However, it was not the language the Commission had recommended. No CEQA determination was presented.

• July 22, 2008 - At Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Westerhoff expresses concern that Grading exemption, related to the Hardscape exemptions passed by the Council, is not before them, noting that staff had previously said it was by mistake that the two were separated. He felt the changes should be being processed concurrently as was originally intended.

• July 24, 2008 - Initial Study and Negative Declaration Posted for hardscape, pool, language changes, after the Code changes covered by the Negative Declaration had already been approved by the Planning commission and the City Council first reading.
Initial Study fails to consider effects of changes. Says possible effects will be considered at time of project applications.

• August 14, 2008 - City Council approves Code changes at second reading and adopts negative declaration. Code changes retroactive to maps and projects approved but not built. Negative Declaration not considered by Planning Commission.

• September 23, 2008 - Planning Commission Code changes: driveway grading exempt over 35 feet, private roads and driveways exempt from grading and hardscape.
Initial Study and Negative Dec.
Notice not been posted in any of the required locations. City Manager says they were stolen, including from inside a glass case. Meeting held anyway.

• October 24, 2008 - Message sent to Attorney General regarding City CEQA violations.

• December 3, 2008 - New Initial Study and Negative Declaration incorporating all Code changes. Initial Study still fails to consider potential impacts and postpones analysis until project applications are received.

• January 27, 2009 - No notices placed anywhere for Planning Commission meeting. Staff said notices were posted except at City Hall (but posted late). Tried to say no need to post at city hall, but City Council Resolution showed they did so designate City Hall as a place to post. Meeting ultimately cancelled due to lack of noticing.

• March 24, 2009 - Planning Commission approves combined Code changes and Negative Declaration with little discussion. Commission does not make revisions they had previously.

• April 9, 2009 - Hearing for Code changes and Negative Declaration adoption posted for April 9th City Council Meeting. Hearing not agendized, held, or continued.

• May 11, 2009 - Hearing for Code changes and Negative Declaration. Improper posting of notice as required by City Code 8.4.20.
Resident testified that hearing was improperly noticed.
Hearing held anyway.
Mayor Vipperman said hearing being held because “someone turned us in to the Attorney General.”