Monday, November 20, 2017     Volume: 18, Issue: 37
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Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on April 19th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 7 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 7

Buellton ordinance oversteps private property rights

By LARRY R. RANKIN

It was fortuitous for me to be at the Buellton City Council meeting on, Feb. 9, 2017, because I was greatly dismayed by what took place. A dispute had arisen between one family that had purchased an RV and a neighbor did not like the RV. In my opinion, the City Council and mayor showed favoritism by allowing the desires of a single, officious city employee to prevail over the needs of the many citizens of Buellton who own boats, trailers, and RVs. The new City Council member, Foster Reif (who lives down the street from the RV purchaser and across the street from the city employee) backed the ordinance. In my opinion, the problem (or lack of) should have been handled locally by the parties involved or by their local homeowners’ association.

The woman who brought the complaint to the council said that she felt the RV would lower her property values. I can understand anyone’s concern about a potential devaluation of property, but when I went over to the neighborhood to see what was so awful about a new RV that would cause the City Council to punish all citizens who own trailers, boats, and RVs, I found a (not unattractive in my opinion) well maintained, appropriately parked motor home that they use for family trips. I also found a home across the street that had deferred maintenance—peeling paint on the house, weeds not cut in the front yard, a mailbox lying sideways on top of the bushes, and old sheets used as curtains. Frankly, this is more of a deterrent to property values and future homebuyers than the suggestion of a more affluent lifestyle and the many recreational opportunities that our beautiful area affords.

The new Buellton RVs, boats, and trailers ordinance was first read on Jan. 26, 2017, and was passed by the City Council on Feb. 9 in a 4-1 vote with Ed Andrisek providing the only no vote. They did not waste any time ramming the ordinance through. It goes into full effect Sept. 11 this year. I spoke against it that evening and it had no consequence. It was apparent they had already made up their minds.

This ordinance gives the council undue control over our private property. Although it affects a large portion of Buellton’s population, most Buellton residents did not even know that it was passed. Many found out after receiving a letter in the mail telling them that they may be in violation and that citizens who failed to comply would be fined. When I asked the city manager if and how people were informed of the ordinance ahead of time, his response was that it was on the city website. Does anyone take time to read the city website? Not me. The city of Buellton should have been more proactive in notifying its citizens of the meeting and inviting public comment prior to the ordinance that affects this many people and has this much impact on personal property (including fines). Instead, the majority found out after the fact. The role of the council is to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interest of the city as a whole. To me, that means listening to the people who elected them to their official capacity. I believe in accountability and transparency and a council whose business is carried out efficiently and effectively with appropriate notification for ordinances that may have a major impact on Buellton residents.

This ordinance does not affect me, as I have none of the items in the ordinance. Personally, I was offended by the undue control and regulation of the use of private property by people whose salaries we pay. With this new ordinance, they are forcing homeowners to spend money and time that many cannot afford in these tumultuous times. I am guessing that the mayor and City Council members are not affected by this ordinance or it would not have passed as easily.

When I talk with people around town, many say, “I do not own any of the items so it does not affect me.” Please be aware that this ordinance potentially affects everyone. They are dictating what you can do with your own private property, now and in the future. One of the ways it can affect everyone, for example, is when you want to place your home on the market, a potential buyer who owns an RV, boat, or trailer finds out they cannot park it because the city has restricted homeowners and imposed limitations on private property owners. You may have just lost a sale. If you change your mind in the future and want to own one of these items, you will incur extra costs and a great deal of inconvenience because the mayor and City Council has not thought this ordinance through. Think of your neighbors, friends, and family as the city dictates your private property rights to you.

I purposely did not purchase a home in a homeowners association, but now the city council and mayor are making the whole town an association, taking control of personal choices and freedoms and creating unnecessary costs and burdens on the citizens of Buellton. Today it is RVs, boats, and trailers. Tomorrow? Who knows.

The officials who passed this ordinance need feedback from you, the residents of Buellton. Please call both your elected council representative and mayor. Calling is the most effective way to influence your representative. It only takes a few minutes of your time and can make a world of difference to all who live in our wonderful community. You can also make personal or public contact with each member. We can be effective as a group and your single phone call can change a board member’s vote.

An all-volunteer team is also circulating a petition. You can join the team and help the cause or simply sign the petition. Consider writing a letter to the editor. Attend the monthly City Council meeting. Speak your mind and share your personal experience during the time allowed for public comment. They need to hear you and the problems the ordinance will cause you or your family—make it personal. Please contact me; my name and number are on each petition. And come to the potluck I am hosting for people to meet and discuss the ordinance (time and date provided on request). Your voice matters.

We need three of the City Council members to agree to revisit the ordinance or it will stay in effect. Time is of the essence. Please call now and let your voice be heard. Place on this on Facebook, and remember, if they do not listen now, your most powerful voice is at the ballot box in the next election.

Contact information for the city is available at cityofbuellton.com or 688-5177. Each person’s name is on the website. Call or email each one today—do not delay.

Larry R. Rankin is a resident of Buellton. Send your thoughts to letters@santamariasun.com.




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