Thursday, April 19 , 2018, 3:24 am | A Few Clouds 48º


Ron Fink

Ron Fink: Cleaning Up Lompoc

In the early 2000s, the City of Lompoc was becoming ghetto-like in some areas because folks didn’t respect each other’s property.

They thought the city was a dumping ground for worn out cars and appliances, and wanted to mark their territory with their favorite spray-paint scribbles.

There were rules in place that basically obligated property owners to keep their property free of the obvious detractions from the appearance of a wholesome community. 

Trash collecting in yards, abandoned appliances, broken windows, fences falling down, abandoned buildings and overgrown vegetation are a few of the many things that a reasonable person would consider blight.

But these rules were loosely enforced, and there wasn’t even a staffer identified by the city to address these issues.

City leaders knew that something was needed to provide a stimulus to clean up the mess. A council workshop was held and direction given back in 2010 — long before many of the current council members were even thinking about trying out politics — to come up with a plan.

Skipping forward to February 2012, the City Council minutes reflect that then mayor John Linn tried to sell the following idea: “The council approved the mayor to tour the city and take pictures of obvious nuisance violations and those properties would receive a letter from the mayor sent by senior code enforcement officer.”

This idea was later rejected by the council majority, and all code enforcement actions and notices were now within the scope of a newly appointed code enforcement officer, not elected officials.

A lot has happened since then. Much of the annoying graffiti has been removed, most derelict vehicles held firmly to the streets by spider webs have been towed away, and many weed-infested yards have been cleaned up.

With the arrival of a new city manager, a policy was adopted whereby all city employees were encouraged to report obvious code violations as they made their rounds around the city.

Despite the improvements, a lot remains to be done.

One is the condition of city-owned property. The city has acquired many acres of property since it was established.

Many buildings are well worn, fences need repair or replacement, and many acres of weeds need to be mowed or plowed every year. While most would agree that the maintenance of city-owned property has improved, more could be done. However, budgets are short of needed funding.

The July 19, 2016, council meeting revealed the true feelings of both former and current “political leaders.” Their comments were a disturbing indication of the vision they have for Lompoc today and tomorrow, and voters should take this into consideration in November.

Apparently council member Jim Mosby thought he had been ignored in a previous meeting when he asked about the status of the code enforcement program.

He thought he had requested that a discussion be placed on a future agenda, but apparently he wasn’t listening as he spoke, because a tape recording of the meeting as reported on Noozhawk “showed that although Mosby asked questions about code enforcement, he did not make a request to put code enforcement on a future agenda.”

The words and accusations soon began to fly as Mosby took an aggressive stance in opposition to how he thought he was being treated by the city.

Noozhawk reported: “A scheduled discussion about the city’s complaint-driven code enforcement program requested by Councilman Jim Mosby began with complaints from City Manager Patrick Wiemiller about a recent newspaper article, and led to charges by Mosby that his multiple properties in the city are being targeted for inconsequential or nonexistent code violations by city staff.”

In 2016, at the direction of the City Council, there is a new emphasis on code enforcement, and Mosby thinks that he is being picked on because he was being “held to a higher standard.”

Well, many think that if you want to be in a position of political leadership then you need to make sure that you are following all the rules.

Now former Mayor Linn, trying to make political points, objects to the current enforcement plan, “suggesting (the significant increase in code enforcement cases) was evidence of staff overreaching.”

What an incredible statement from someone who just four years ago wanted to travel the city as a one-man enforcer, camera in hand, and personally hand out letters to errant residents.

Both Linn and Mosby have had several code compliance issues with property that they either own or manage.

Improper storage, poorly maintained landscaping on the main streets of town and poorly maintained buildings are some examples.

Maybe they think that enforcement of city codes don’t apply to them because of their current and former political positions.

I don’t know about you, but I think that anyone in elected office or anyone seeking such a position should demonstrate that the highest level of integrity before they serve and that following the rules that apply to the people they want to govern is one of the most important measures.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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