residents of a community.
I am prompted to write about this again as a result of a conversation
with a colleague. My friend, a resident of Huntington Beach, was in the
process of having his driveway recemented. Obviously, while that process
was taking place, he was incapable of driving cars in and out of the
garage or parking them on his driveway.
When the process of construction was well underway, he realized his
construction was occurring during street sweeping. Being the owner of
three cars and not wanting to receive $32 tickets for parking on the
street, he did exactly what he should have -- he called the city to find
out about a temporary exemption.
First, he was directed to the wrong person. This employee was more
concerned about the nature of the construction than the specific problem
he called about. After this call, he received a call from the city asking
about the construction and whether he had secured the appropriate
permits. That'll teach him to call the city to resolve a problem.
Soon he found his way to someone in public works. After some discussion,
he was told he could get an exemption for $50 -- as in $50 to avoid a $32
I'm sure that at the conclusion of the conversation, the employee merely
hung up the phone and went about his or her business.
I'm also sure my friend is not alone, and that there are a myriad of
resident problems and issues that need to be addressed and reoccur.
I support an ombudsman who would not only investigate the problem and
attempt to find a solution, but who would propose exemptions and changes
to city laws and policies to the City Council that would better
accommodate the residents of this community.
As an example, would it be a big deal if, under the circumstances, we
allowed the automobile owner one free exemption per year per auto,
provided they secured the exemption before the street sweeping? Certainly
City Hall wouldn't be overrun by people asking for these exemptions,
given that they would have to go to City Hall to get them.
A centralized person whose sole responsibility is to deal with resident
complaints -- not to just field them, but to do something about the
specific complaint and to propose changes in policies and laws so that we
don't create problems for someone else down the road -- seems to make
sense to me.
I know that function is supposed to be served by the City Council, but I
think that it's often too much to expect residents to make several
exasperating phone calls to City Hall to be told that there's nothing
that can be done, and then expect them to get a hold of a council member
who has the time and inclination to do something about what appears to be
a small problem compared to the other issues confronting the official.
As I said, to me it just makes good sense to have an ombudsman. But
that's probably why we won't have one.
* RON DAVIS is a private attorney who lives in Huntington Beach. He can
be reached by e-mail at o7 email@example.com .