The Illusionary Appearance of Action

Funny article in the newspaper about how our Planning Committee wants the city to waste more money. Well, no, that's not what the headline of the story says. The headline says, "Rosemead Slaughterhouse Steps Away From Closure." That's a lie, of course. The Planning Commission members made sure of that.

On Monday, the Planning Commission adopted an ordinance that basically orders what has, for the past 18 years, been a "legal, non-conforming use," which is to say, a businesses that was properly licensed and legally operating at a time when the city changed its ordinances to prohibit such businesses from operating.

When that happens, existing businesses are almost always grandfathered in. They can continue operating on the same scale and at the same location pretty much indefinitely. This is what Cal-Poultry has been doing. In fact, the Clark/Taylor/Imperial gang voted them several additional permissions to allow operation of a new retail outlet to accompany the previous poultry slaughter aspect of the business. But because one of Maggie Clark's political supporters lives in the area, they decided to make attacking this businesses a personal vendetta.

And this is where the problem comes in. Thanks to the loose lips of certain planning commissioners, any judge who looks at the record is going to see this for what it is. Has the business expanded? No. Has the smell gotten worse? No. Has the business always remediated problems when government bodies have brought them to the owners attention? Yes. In fact, the business tried to remediate the problem pro-actively, by proposing a major HVAC/drainage improvement that would cost thousands of dollars. However, the city council voted them down.

Last night, the Planning Commission went even further, essentially announcing that the city should shut them down in a year. Fortunately, we still live in America, and, in America, even property owners have rights. Government can't just take private property unless it is for a public use, and unless it provides the owner with just compensation.

Rather than offering the owner just compensation, the Planning Commission basically said, "We hate you and we're going to try to strangle you out of existence. We're not going to give you an opportunity to address the odor concerns, we're not going to give you time to relocate, and we don't about the current conditions at this business. We just want you to die. In one year, we're going to try to kill you."

By the way, you want to know what the Constitution means by "just compensation"? Money. As in, oh, I don't know, maybe money from the city's community redevelopment fund? You remember that fund? That's the one the city just tapped to eliminate the blight of a dirt track on Rosemead High School's property.

Isn't that amusing? The city council thinks a dirt track is blight and is willing to spend city dollars to replace that blight with a synthetic track, for which Rosemead taxpayers will bear 75% of the construction costs. But the city council does not REALLY think the slaughterhouse is an actual problem. If it did, it could have made a finding of blight there, and used community redevelopment funds to eliminate it (either by buying the property or paying for the odor and water pollution problem that allegedly exists here).

I'm not saying the city SHOULD use redevelopment funds to close this business, and I'm not saying the city should use redevelopment funds to remediate the smell and improve the water pollution control system of this business. I'm just saying if the city council really thought this was a serious problem, this is exactly the sort of situation that could be addressed with community redevelopment funds. Or at least, it could be, if they weren't busy blowing those dollars on a new track for Chuck Lyons.

Instead, the current city council majority and the majority of the planning commission that they appointed has decided to replace the taking of actual action to solve a problem with the illustion of action. They get to vote for a "get tough" policy that will be legally indefensible in court. It'll cost the city tens of thousands of dollars on litigation that is guaranteed to fail. Yeah, but at least they can all sit back with an undeserved sense of smug "accomplishment." So much better. Congratulations, Rosemead Planning Commission. I'm sure Burke, Williams & Sorensen will send you a nice fruit basket for Christmas.


Great essay.

This is a pathetic situation.