Letter: Challenging the city’s parking program
To the editor,
– I was grateful that the Paso Robles City Council reviewed my “notice of pre-litigation” and looked over my cease and desist letter for their parking program. The fact that they stopped the parking program after review shows that they saw the validity of my legal points. The State Constitution gives power to cities to make laws as long as they comply with general laws. General laws regarding motor vehicles including parking are specified in the DMV. DMV says this must be done by ordinance and subject to referendum. Legal counsel certainly must have advised them that this was the law. However their response to say they are temporarily suspending the program until the new parking fees are ready to be instituted is troubling.
The decision to change parking fees was by resolution and not ordinance. It was not done in accordance with the Brown Act. The motion was not even on the agenda. It needs to be brought back for public comment. It was done despite bitter opposition by residents, business owners and shoppers. It appears to me that they are continuing to to treat that vote as legitimate, which it was not. I pointed out that the city’s own website says that an ordinance must be brought for a second reading.
Throughout this whole process you have three members of the city council who have fought change, stifled negotiation, opposed reconciliation and not given us a chance to end this without a lawsuit. They are essentially telling us if we challenge them on parking they will just make sure their program is done legally this time or at least claim that it is. No compromise, negotiation, no other course than force us to pursue this legally and continue to seek refunds of all money paid. Their failure to work with us forced us to pursue legal action. They know that but they don’t care. Unfortunately the impression they have left with the people is that they view this as a way of getting money out of citizens without the stigma of calling it a tax.
Ultimately though we were successful in getting some free parking and some increased business. It was encouraging to anyone who wished to stand up to an unjust law and get some results, and thanks to everyone who encouraged and supported me. It was done for the people of Paso Robles and this victory belongs to them. Furthermore I hope this whole episode encourages people to look into more of the city programs and see if they are being run properly.
Gary Lehrer, citizen advocate, Templeton
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