Revoke Ordinance 30
October 25, 2007
The emerging history plainly points to a succession of factual and legal errors by the City Council mandating that a flawed law, still riddled with defects, be revoked and the city address the important issue of historic preservation in a considered, pragmatic manner. Consider the following examples, all on the public record:
1) The ordinance was passed as an “emergency” over protests of the citizens. Following as series of meetings considering revisions, Councilman DeVilbiss corrected pointed out that the original legal predicate for such action was not satisfied and the bill should not have been passed as an emergency ordinance. His motion to revoke was headed for passage until at the last moment Councilman Romero (the long-dissenting vote to the original motion to pass as an emergency) reversed course and would not revoke the ordinance. His reasoning was that the process of starting over would lead the council to the same point it was currently at, only months later. Perhaps he was correct as a matter of timing, but that was not a reason to sustain legislation that was legally defective from its inception.
2) In response to citizen concerns, the council specifically voted to insert into the amended ordinance a requirement that there would be no involuntary designations of property as historic without a supermajority of the council. The problem was that council at the time of the vote did not have legal advice from the city attorney, who subsequently indicated that supermajority was contrary to the city charter. The result was that the proposed amendments to the ordinance do not contain this important requirement as voted by the council. A bedrock concern of the citizens, passed by the council, is nowhere to be found in the proposed changes.
These are merely two examples of the tortured path this legislation has taken, evidence of hasty actions without first obtaining considered advice, in short, poor governance. The motivation of the council is good but the execution is bad. What is needed is a clear recognition that less than a majority of the council supports this ordinance, it should be revoked and historic preservation be taken up on a clean slate, not encumbered by the succession of flaws currently clouding the process.
Neil B. Siegel
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