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By Councilmember Steven Knoblock
I am honored and humbled to be serving as one of San Clemente’s newest city councilmembers.
There are many pressing issues facing our city, such as hiring a new city manager, making sure the 241 Toll Road never cuts through our beautiful town, sand erosion on our beaches, ensuring that the 1,700 tons of nuclear fuel rods are finally removed from our nearby San Onofre beach storage facility, reinstating our train horn quiet zone, and finding regional solutions to the problem of homelessness.
Measures to address these issues are being aggressively pursued by the present city council.
In addition, I have also asked the city council to approve a one-year pilot program to allow San Clemente‘s approximately 16,000 dog owners to be able to enjoy a portion of our beach with their beloved (and leashed) pets.
We are currently seeking citizen input on what portion of our beaches would be best suited for dog access. If you would like to weigh in on what specific portion of the beach should be made available for dog use by responsible dog owners who clean up after their pets, please email your comments to the city clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask that your comments be shared with the city council.
On a different note, I have also asked the council to immediately rescind and nullify the draconian city ordinance #1655. Under this ordinance, if a citizen challenges a city administrative, zoning, or code enforcement decision and then loses the challenge at the hearing level, then the citizen is obligated to pay all of the city’s expenses related to the hearing and all appeals.
These expenses include, but are not limited to, the administrative hearing officer’s costs, the city attorney’s costs, independent legal counsel costs, consultants’ costs, the cost of staff time, the filing fee, documentation costs, notice costs, hearing costs, appeal costs, etc.
This could run up to thousands of dollars. It is like requiring someone who challenges a speeding ticket in court and loses, to then have to pay the expenses related to the salary of the judge, bailiff, court clerk, court stenographer, district attorney, and all related staff costs, notice costs, and overhead expenses.
This ordinance requires these fees, the amount of which the city estimates in advance, to be paid in full, up front. If these fees are not paid in advance, your right to appeal is deemed waived, eliminated, kaput.
An ordinance of this sort effectively bullies citizens into not pursuing their just grievances for fear of having to pay potentially tens of thousands of dollars if a ruling does not go completely in their favor.
The good news is, if you have the money and tenacity to go forward and ultimately win your case, you only have to pay half these costs.
All government entities should treat their citizens with the dignity and respect they deserve, and not punish them for having the temerity to seek their “day in court” in order to exercise their God-given and Constitutional right to disagree with the government that serves them. That includes our government here in San Clemente.
Steven Knoblock was elected to a two-year term on the San Clemente City Council in 2020.