The fifth meeting of the Neighborhood Protection Ordinance Committee (NPOC) was held on Sept. 22, to, once again, weigh and discuss the proposed changes to the city ordinance concerning boarding houses – aka mini-dorms. Unfortunately, in past meetings, some of the parties have their own particular stakes in the issue and did their best to confuse people into thinking the changes would end up hurting particular groups. However, the reality seemed to be that they wanted to make sure they could continue to have the opportunity to take advantage of the problem.
The problem stems from many different sources. Part of the blame rests with the direction of previous City Councils and staff. According to City Manager Julio Fuentes, “We went from one Code Enforcement officer covering the entire city to the four we have now. We have a lot of work and a lot of catching up to do.” In regard to enforcement going forward, Fuentes added, “We are not trying to issue any citations against a young person’s background – especially if they have to apply for a job later. We’re going to ask for cooperation.”
As the discussion continued, it became evident the committee couldn’t agree on the purpose of their meetings. Was it to draft an ordinance that would be passed to the Council, or did it warrant further discussion? Vice Mayor Jerry Marsalli, said, “There are five Planning Commission members…(and) five Council Members who have not had a chance to participate in the dialog or see staff reports. It’s not our job to decide if it’s good or bad, but to take it up the ladder so when it does reach the Council, all the facts are available, and to make a true presentation of what needs to be done has been done so council can make a final decision. I make the motion and bring it to next step, to take it to the Planning Commission so they can weigh in.”
Director of Planning and Inspecting Kevin Riley added, “The committee is supposed to report back to Council…[or we] could send it to the Planning Commission, and Architectural Review Committee to get their comments. Then the committee can make their presentation to Council,” [saying] ‘These are the questions and these are the things we like,’ and then let the Council decide. That would be my recommendation.”
Even though committee members were split over many parts of the ordinance, they voted unanimously to adopt Marsalli’s proposal and pass the proposed ordinance to the Planning Commission.