Your voices made a difference. On Tuesday, Supervisors decided not to approve Building and Planning proposal to increase their fees and add new inspections. However, in all likelihood, the issue will be resurrected again very soon as the county union surely wants its 5% salary increase. Momentum is on our side, let's not let it go to waste. Let's reform our county permit system once and for all and get rid of our Building and Planning leech. So, what do we want now?
1) Our current Building and Planning System is rotten to the core. Constitutional violations are rampant, fee are exorbitant, value of their services to the residents is close to zero. Plus, the department is always running a deficit. Hoping that they will change from the inside is naive. There were county committees formed in 2005, and again in 2012 with no real improvements to the residents. We cannot afford another 30 years of waste and abuse of our property rights.
2) The value of their inspections to the homeowners is zero. They are unlicensed, unbonded, and uninsured bureaucrats who carry no liability for their inspections. If the county inspections were optional to the homeowners, overwhelming majority would opt out and hire their own professionals to insure safety of their homes.
3) The value of their services to the general public is zero. Ensuring health and safety is their stated purpose. Yet, numerous cases I cited in my previous mailings, many emails I receive from the residents, and my own experience over the last 13 years of dealing with the county show that the Building and Planning staff is more interested in keeping themselves busy with meaningless paper shuffle then going after real health and safety issues once they are informed of them.
4) We want revision of our local ordinance and rules. The county is required to enforce the state law -- but no more than the state law -- when it comes to building and planning issues. Right now, they go above and beyond the call of the state law in our local requirements. Some of these additions come from ordinance, some from their intradepartmental memos. Let's get rid of everything that goes beyond the basic state requirements, no more "voluntary" inspections and checks by the county. 2) We want to outsource their plan checking and inspection services, partially or completely. Petaluma has done it a few years ago and is very happy with the results. So did City of Half Moon Bay, partially Atherton, etc. This will require minimal county oversights and will fit within the budget, rid the system of bureaucratic abuses of power, and stop the union pressure on the Supervisors. It will reduce our fees at least in half and leave no incentive for non-mandatory reports and inspections. Also, many counties are using contractor's self-certification for simple items and we should be able to do the same.
3) Code enforcement is now a favorite revenue item of the Department. First, the county is violating numerous state and federal laws in the way they conduct their enforcement actions and assess their "investigation fees" inviting potential lawsuits. Second, they also target the most lucrative cases instead of the ones with real health and safety violations thereby defeating the very purpose of their work. We want code enforcement to be reserved only for real cases of health and safety violations. In those cases, the enforcement can be done by police, like it is in Redwood City (two guys on city payroll, that is all) or outsourced to a private company like it is inPetaluma (one non-full time person).
If you are not happy with the system, please do act now, it will be too late if we delay. Supervisors are listening now. Best, ask for an appointment with one or each of the five supervisors, share your own story, and ask them to form a committee comprised of homeowners and county management to evaluate the outsourcing proposal. We have provided them with the feasibility study of the outsourcing.
Remember, to win, and win we will, you must at least try.
Dave Pine firstname.lastname@example.org Carole Groom email@example.com
Don Horsley firstname.lastname@example.org
Warren Slocum email@example.com
Adrienne Tissier firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Pine 363-4571
Carole Groom 363-4568
Don Horsley 363-4569
Warren Slocum 363-4570
Adrienne Tissier 363-4572