I often laugh when government hacks and bureaucrats claim that a city, body or agency is “open for business” or other such nonsense platitudes. The idea that we’re customers and not captives to their regulatory whims is patently ridiculous. But this idea of being open for business by virtue of stealing from you slightly less, or because you favor one entity over others never seems to fade.
By way of example I’ll offer the last Planning Commission meeting, as written about here, where city staff tried to make the case that because rules and regulations relating to Downtown Fullerton were too onerous and hard to enforce the city needs to do away with them and replace them with rules more favorable to bars pretending to be restaurants. All to be more agreeable with the needs and wishes of our Downtown denizens. Ted White, our Community Development Direct, made this laughable claim and a few others I’m going to be discussing at some length in future posts as I take it all apart. The more I’ve been thinking about this last meeting the one thing that strikes me as most irritating is that the city is only worried about Downtown rules being too onerous and problematic. There are countless parts of our Municipal code which are outdated, unenforced and unenforceable and yet Downtown seems to be the only area of constant focus for nigh onto forever.
The actual issue and thing people need to understand is that Mr. White and his cohorts, who only answer to the City Manager who himself only answers to Council who themselves are owned by special interests and moneyed business owners and don’t really care about we citizens, don’t really care if rules are too onerous or burdensome or just plain ridiculous. Let us turn the wayback machine on and look at the FilmLA sponsored claptrap that made it through the Economic Development Commission (with nary a soul bothering to read the ordinance before voting Aye) and then all the way through to being approved by our anti-business council.
Do you see what I saw when I was on EDC and arguing to take this ordinance apart?
You need a permit to take even still photos ON YOUR OWN PROPERTY if they are “commercial” and nowhere does the city define “commercial”.
Doing some advertising? Photos for Yelp? Pictures on your website? Are you a fashion or beauty vlogger? Taking real estate photos?
Congrats. That might all be “commercial” because the city refused then and still refuses today to define the term commercial for the sake of the ordinance. I know because I asked them to define it and they wouldn’t. Ok, so you need a permit which isn’t too onerous I suppose to most people.
BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.
You also need to tell the city your name, address, email address, phone numbers, how many people are involved, the location you are filming or taking photos at, a statement of character or nature of your project, what day and time you’ll be filming AND THE EXACT AMOUNT AND TYPE OF EQUIPMENT to be involved.
What constitutes “equipment”? Nobody knows. Again the city refused to define such a term and the ordinance doesn’t spell it out as you can clearly see in the above screenshot.
Are these public records? The ordinance doesn’t say. So if I want to create a Beard Beauty Vlog I need to tell the city when and where I’m filming (or shooting photos) and tell them, and all prospective thieves, exactly what gear I’m using lest I be in non-compliance. All in a city that doesn’t want to enforce rules or be too onerous against
restaurants bars in Downtown.
An irony in this is that getting blitzed drunk and causing mayhem in Downtown is A-OK to City Staff and Council, and we should embolden that behavior with more noise and more lax rules, but heaven forbid you want to sell a naughty plant for people to consume mostly at home. Heck, our staff and council would rather get sued and put the taxpayers on the hook for a settlement (or settlements) than even zone an area for legal marijuana.
When the city council and city staff claim they are pro-business it means pro-business that lines their pockets. It means pro-business for their friends and donors. If our City Manager, City Staff and City Council really want to show us and the local business community that they are open for business (per Councilwoman Fitzgerald) then we should audit the municipal code for all items which are not enforced and explain why they aren’t enforced and if truly onerous or unenforceable we should remove them based on how terrible they are and how many people / businesses are impacted as opposed to the current system of simply favoring one part of our city over the rest.
Also, it would be awesome if City Staff would stop shilling for businesses and start working for all of the taxpayers who fund their salaries and pensions. When we go to council, commission meetings and public hearings it is often, if not always, we the
concerned citizenry chronic malcontents up against both staff and the developers they’re shilling to protect. Staff should be as neutral as possible and only interested in passing along facts as opposed to staff working for some interests and against others.