Elk Grove City Council Approves 45-Day Moratorium, Questions City Staff

Elk Grove Planning Director offended by council member implications During a specially scheduled meeting Friday afternoon, the Elk Grove Ci...

Elk Grove Planning Director offended by council member implications

During a specially scheduled meeting Friday afternoon, the Elk Grove City Council approved a 45-day moratorium on large retail establishments in excess of 50,000 square feet, specifically including general retail and grocery supermarket uses.   

The meeting was scheduled because it was discovered during Wednesday night's regular city council meeting that language the would have been favorable to a proposed Wal Mart store had been inserted into a recently passed planning ordinance. 

Language supplied by Wal Mart? 

During the public comment portion, Elk Grove resident Peter Gaffney suggested that the language inserted in the recently amended Title 23 ordinance "exactly meets the parameters of the proposed Wal Mart." 

A resident of the Madeira neighborhood where the proposed Wal Wart would be, Gaffney said he and fellow residents were "appalled" to find out the new language would have allowed Wal Mart to claim a by-rights permit to build with no conditions being imposed by the city council.

"A cynical mind might even be persuaded that this language had been supplied by Wal Mart or its designees, although at your June 22 meeting staff were unable to attribute authorship - yet another striking turn of events," Gaffney said.

Council members Gary Davis and Jim Cooper both expressed displeasure with the inclusion of the language and promised to look further in to the matter.

"I am disturbed that this language was inserted," Davis said.

Cooper directly asked City Manager Laura Gill if she know who was responsible for insertion of the language. 

"No we don't," Gill said.

Gill went on to say that the earliest she could trace it back was to last fall following comments from a constituent about the proposed language, but was unable say exactly when or who inserted it. 

"I'm still not happy about about what went on," Cooper said. "It's very disturbing." 

After the meeting concluded when asked about who may have inserted the language Elk Grove Planning Director Taro Echiburu said it could have been any member of the city staff. "It could have been any of 10 people," he said.

Echiburu went on to say the language was changed based on the lawsuit where Friends of Madeira successfully sued the city and Elk Grove over the matter. He emphasized city staff did not act in concert with Wal Mart's interests. 

Echiburu also said he took offense to the suggestion that city staff had inserted the language. 

"I can't tell you how offensive that is from a professional point of view," he said. "We didn't do this in the dark."

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Sarah Johnson said...

If Mr. Gaffney had not brought this to light, it could have easily been missed entirely. The Council must rely on staff for guidance, and in my opinion, staff is supposed to have the education and experience to catch something like this. I doubt that staff did this on purpose, but in order for us to get a somewhat level playing field, there has to be a way to check these things.

Rex said...

It's probably a morale issue. If the staff could only get that extra 10% in their pay envelopes...

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