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Wednesday, March 20 , 2019, 4:41 am | Partly Cloudy 53º

 
 
 
 
Advice

City of Goleta Remains Mum on Councilman Jim Farr’s Absence

Since an undisclosed medical issue sidelined Goleta City Councilman Jim Farr two weekends ago, both Farr and the City of Goleta have declined to say much of anything at all.

Jim Farr

But Farr’s absence did result in a potential deadlock of the City Council on a long-standing Old Town development project earlier this week.

Unable to get beyond a 2-2 tie of the four remaining council members Tuesday, the project’s developer requested a continuance. As a result, the council took no action when asked to approve the City Ventures mixed-use project on 12 acres of urban farmland west of South Kellogg Avenue.

On Aug. 11, the city announced that Farr had suffered a medical problem that prevented him from engaging in his official duties.

Farr, a 69-year-old retired newspaper publisher elected in 2012, has not responded to multiple Noozhawk requests for comment about his condition and how long he expects to be away.

The city has refused to provide further information about his condition or recovery timeline, stating that privacy laws prohibit such disclosures.

When asked for comment from the city or City Manager Michelle Greene, Goleta spokeswoman Valerie Kushnerov told Noozhawk that neither would be “issuing statements on personal issues related to council members.”

Kushnerov said the council has addressed and provided direction on 56 items during Farr’s absence.

“Everything has moved forward with the exception of Old Town Village,” she said. “In that case, the applicant requested a continuance as no vote was taken.”

Kushnerov said a tie still was possible even if all five council members had been present, since there could have been a 2-2 vote if a member had abstained or taken a recusal.

According to the city’s municipal code, all council members are paid $484 a month for their service, regardless of attendance.

City Attorney Tim Giles said Wednesday that there aren’t any specific rules within the municipal code about a vacant office on the council, but government code sections do apply.

One provision takes effect when a member ceases to discharge duties for a period of three months or more, except when prevented by sickness or is absent with permission.

Giles said Mayor Paula Perotte had granted permission for Farr’s absence but that her action had not been included as an agenda item at a public meeting.

He said there have been council meetings at which only four members have been available.

“We have provisions that deal with tie votes,” he said.

Because Tuesday’s item on the Old Town Village required General Plan and zoning changes, the decision had to be made by the council, Giles said. And, he added, when the developer saw he would not get an affirmative vote with the 2-2 deadlock, he asked to come back with additional changes.

“You could have the same five people there and have the same situation,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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