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Our Readers Write: Council can't rush ordinances

May 27, 2010

Democracy is under attack. What we have seen in Congress and the state Legislature is now happening in our La Cañada Flintridge City Council. Democratic processes for the approval and implementation of laws are being abandoned in favor of accelerated processes that remove significant opportunity for public response — accelerated processes not allowed by Constitution or law.

In a recent case the LCF City Council passed an "urgency measure" to allow use of fields for a softball tournament on two Sundays, contrary to LCF ordinances citing as grounds "an immediate threat to public welfare." The California Government Code provides for urgency measures when needed to protect pending zoning ordinances. "Urgency ordinances" are allowed to protect against immediate threats to public peace, public safety or public health — but not threats to public welfare. Hence this City Council resolution fails to qualify for any sort of "urgency" and cannot cause the change to go into effect immediately — or even in time for the tournament.

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The issue concerning the La Cañada Junior Baseball/Softball Assn. tournament has had proper public hearings, and the permits ought to be issued. The permits could probably be issued under the loophole created by an "emergency use" clause in the existing city ordinance. Direction from the City Council would strengthen that position.

The only concern here is that the "urgency" aspect of the current resolution sets a precedent allowing our City Council to put most any law on the books with only 72 hours' advance notice. We didn't like it when Congress rushed a major law into effect without allowing for public response. We won't like it when our City Council starts rushing local ordinances into effect without waiting for public response. Neither of these is appropriate in a democracy.

James Stoker


Board endorses education reform

On May 19 the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board held a special meeting to consider a resolution in favor of the California Legislative Analyst's Office recommendations regarding educational reform. The resolution passed unanimously.

The California Legislative Analyst's Office has made recommendations on legislation that would provide local school boards with greater flexibility and control over local staffing decisions.

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