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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Libertarian Councilmen Vote To Require Design Review For Re-Roofing

The Mountain View City Council includes Libertarian Party member John Inks and economist Tom Means, a fellow at the libertarian Independent Institute.  From an Oct 28 article by Daniel DeBolt in the Mountain View Voice describing a unanimous vote of the Council:

The City Council on Tuesday rejected an owner's attempt to re-roof a run-down apartment complex which has stood vacant with blue tarps covering leaky roofs ever since a redevelopment plan failed almost two years ago. Paul Hogan, attorney for Summerhill Apartments owner Sal Teresi, argued that the city's ordinances allow a re-roofing permit for the building because it is not receiving major changes to the exterior, and because the site is not undergoing a change in land use.



But due to a long list of code violations, safety issues and neighborhood concerns about the complex, city staffers say, Teresi needs to go through an unusual discretionary requirement -- a several-week-long "design review process" -- before any permits are issued.  The council voted unanimously against Teresi's appeal for the re-roofing permit, including member John Inks, a self-described "property rights purist," who said the council's action could be seen as "effectively a condemnation" of the building.

"Not allowing us to make repairs is not helpful to anyone," Hogan said at the meeting. The city's ordinances do not apply, he said, because "This is not a new building, this is not a change in land use and this is not a change to the exterior. Your ordinance doesn't say you have to go through design review if the neighborhood has concerns."  City attorney Michael Martello disagreed.  "Under their theory they could rebuild the entire complex" without any oversight.

Last year the city reported that "numerous structures have rodent infestation, insect hives along with dry rot and signs of termite destruction. ... Numerous units lack working bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures and heating devices." Other problems reported by city staff include the "presence of rank odor," likely from a broken sewer line, broken concrete stairs and metal guardrails, missing smoke detectors, mold, unvented water heaters and numerous electrical violations.

Meanwhile, the city says Teresi still owes $87,950 in unpaid planning fees for the previous condo development plan, which spurred the council later that evening to change how city planning fees are collected.

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