Planning Department Bait and Switch

Posted on Freedom Advocates on November 14th 2007 

Deed restrictions, mandatory inspections, pre-enforcement and proactive enforcement exist under the banner of “streamlining” and “simplifying” the “permit reform” process. The new date for the Planning Director’s response to the Board of Supervisor’s input it April 15th (for building regulation portions) and end of May for the code compliance enforcement portions. The details of this ordinance have the potential to defy both state and federal constitutions.

Santa Cruz, CA The County Planning Director is trying to get an ordinance passed regarding habitable and non-habitable accessory structures. The ordinance requires a property owner to have deed restrictions recorded against his or her property and periodic inspections to make sure the property owner is “in compliance.” This allows a County employee to enter land or a dwelling without reasonable cause to proactively inspect to see if a provision of the local code has been violated. It is in direct conflict with the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution (against warrantless searches) and the California Code of Civil Procedure 1822.50 which allows a search warrant to be issued after permission to inspect has been sought and refused.

Did we elect Supervisors to monitor, penalize and tax us or to protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures? 

UPDATE Board of Supervisors Meeting December 4, 2007 

In the  Planning Commission agenda Item #9 for October 24, 2007, the
word “enforcement” appears 32 times. The Planning Commission
unanimously voted for this proposed ordinance calling it “Permit

 Planning Director Tom Burns for Agenda Item 52  “Public hearing to consider Planning Commission’s recommendation to adopt proposed amendments to the County Code Chapters 13.10, 13.20 and 16.50 to simplify zoning regulations for small-scale residential structures. ”

Planning Director Burns  and Department Official Glenda Hill are defensive on the warrantless search issue, the ordinance still contains pre-enforcement, proactive enforcement,  and deed restrictions.  The Board of Supervisors decided to postpone discussion of the “code enforcement” aspects of this new ordinance to February 26, 2008.

UPDATE Board of Supervisors Meeting February 26, 2008

Item #52 on the Agenda  contained a letter from Planning Director Tom Burns to postpone the item to March 18th. While the Sierra Club has applied pressure to steep up code enforcement provisions of this ordinance, the Planning Director and others try to pacify the public. South County resident William McGrath, who was involved in the lawsuit that prevailed against the  Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency’s illegal tax on water, appeared at the February 26th hearing to voice his and others concerns regarding the constitutionality of this ordinance.

Please contact or 684-2232 or Citizens for Planning Reform for more information.

UPDATE MARCH 18, 2008 FROM Citizens for Planning Reform

Planning Department Bait and Switch:

Tuesday, March 18, at 1:30pm the Santa Cruz County Board of
Supervisors intends to pass a resolution under the false guise of
“planning reform”. Buried in the middle of the shallow display of
relaxed permit restrictions lies a very dangerous item – a
“stipulation” that the homeowner be forced to sign granting code
compliance free rein to enter and search the property without cause,
without notification and in perpetuity. See the comments at the end of
this message from 3 local property rights advocates.

Please appear at the Supe chambers on the 5th floor to voice your concern or Email the Supervisors here by 8:30am, be sure to reference Item 67.

Full text of the regulatory changes.

Table 1Accessory Structure
Ordinance 13.10.681.8(d)2

David Smith




Santa Cruz


Section XIV (e) should
be struck from the proposed ordinance in its entirety due to its outright
violation of the 4th amendment to the constitution.

If  passed, the ordinance will likely be
brought to suit within 90 days;
otherwise many individuals will surely sue upon enforcement.


 In the US Constitution,
some rights can be waived by

agreement such as the
right to jury trial; however the right to be free of warrant less search and
seizure cannot be relinquished.

Landowners obtaining
permits should file a declaration of their agreement under duress. The
California Code contains a provision giving citizens the right to sue against
subjection to exaction within 6 months after receiving the permit, and anytime
thereafter upon enforcement of the illegal



Santa Cruz


As past President of
the Architect Association and still an active member…the Architects
Association does not support the changes, while individual members do. While I
support the changes by in large, as does the current President, I believe they
are an extraordinary example of “window dressing”. Let no one, including the
Sierra Club, believe that these changes are anything but minor in nature and
have little day to day effect on a fundamentally flawed process.

In fact
these changes propose a true poison pill, they allow right of entry
“inspections” by county officials, a higher level of scrutiny that even
President Bush might be willing to propose.

There is no true
“streamlining” involved, there is no encouragement of environmentally unfriendly
development (quite the opposite in fact), it is just essentially harmless window
dressing…other than the poison pill.

I get the strange feeling that
this is something for various individuals to point to as some sort of
achievement, but without doing anything truly of


Michael Shaw





Santa Cruz


To Members of the
Board of Supervisors and Mr. Tom Burns,

I object to proposed
ordinance 13.10.681 8 (d) 2.

One compelling
reason for objection is that your authority does not include the power to
require a citizen to forsake unalienable rights, guaranteed by the

States and

California constitutions.

It is shocking that the Board would consider
requiring forfeiture of 4th amendment search and seizure protections
in exchange for “allowing” a compromised (and abused) exercise of 5th amendment property rights.

Under this proposed
ordinance, the exercise of one’s unalienable right to the reasonable use and
enjoyment of private property would become conditioned on the surrender of 4th amendment prohibitions on
arbitrary search.  This action is unconstitutional.

States Supreme Court; Nollan v.

California Coastal Commission

Please reject
adoption of Section 13.10.681 8 (d) 2.

Excerpt of testimony
delivered to Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and Planning Director, Tom

March 18, 2008



See related article:
Building Regulations and Code Compliance Monitoring


[Editor’s Note: The contact information and links listed above were accurate circa 2008 and may no longer be.]


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