Opinion: Hangtown Haven and City Double Standards
I watched the City Council meeting regarding the Hangtown Haven’s request for an extension of its Temporary Use Permit and the discrimination that followed by certain members of the audience and the City Council. The Council Members and City Attorney Driscoll made the case for closing this much needed community resource in these trying economic times for people that a little need help by talking out of both of their mouths.
The basic premise by Borelli, Driscoll and the rest of the Council was that the Hangtown Haven was basically a Sea Monkey experiment gone bad and designed to statutorily expire after it’s one year Temporary Use Permit ran its course and couldn’t be renewed; however, the City has several times renewed the Temporary Use Permits on other projects in town that do not meet the city development standards and also violate public health and safety. In fact, with the same property owner. The City has gone as far as to co-conspire, collude and rubber stamp two illegal commercial parking lot developments after the fact on Briw Road with Temporary Use Permits and then annually renew them each year. The City in fact did so with the same underlying property owner of the Hangtown Haven, Barry Wilkinson on this other property he owns on Briw Road where the County Health and Human Services Department is located. For several years now, the City Council has continued to renew a Temporary Use Permit for Wilkinson, etal. for illegally constructed dirt/gravel parking lots and storage containers built for the County to handle an overflow of parking that clearly do not meet the City Development standards or codes and violate public health and safety – the same arguments used by the City Council Tuesday night to deny the current Hangtown Haven on a property owned by the same property owner, and just like the Haven, there are no sidewalks on Briw Road. Discrimination you might say? I found the Council’s use of the public safety argument not only disingenuous, but downright dishonest, deceitful and duplicitous.
I think Barry Wilkinson has done a tremendous job with trying to help the homeless, but I find it disingenuous for the City Council to sit there and talk out both sides of their mouths while splitting hairs about the time limits of Temp Use Permits, alleged violation of City Standards, etc., etc., as I’ve now watched them extend another one year Temporary Use Permit for six years! This is the same City Council that selectively, arbitrarily and capriciously grants renewals of Temporary Use Permits year after year on Mr. Wilkinson’s dirt/gravel commercial parking lot developments on Briw Road property that benefit the County of El Dorado and yet seek to deny the Temporary Use Permit extension that benefits the Homeless – especially when the property owner is one in the same smacks of discrimination. Further, for the Council to tout that the City has development standards and needs to follow them is laughable.
I think Legal Services of California may have one heck of a Federal Case of Discrimination. Shame on you City Council members!