That stupid Rosemead Partners' Mailer

I keep intending to do a point-by-point rebuttal of the Rosemead Partners’ hit piece. But the time it takes to rebut the entire mailer takes too long. I guess that’s the idea behind their mailer: Throw a lot of crap against the wall and hope that some of it sticks. That’s why it’s easier to run a negative campaign than a positive campaign. It takes a long time to try to educate people when the other side is tossing around lies, half-truths, and innuendos like they’re going out of style.

So instead of trying to do it all at once, I’ll do it one part of a time, in no particular order. Today’s topic will be trash cans.

The mailer warns that, if the new proposed ordinance passes a city inspector could declare "A code violation if your garbage cans are visible from the street!" The implication is that this is a new and horrible expansion of the city code enforcement powers.

However, take a look at the existing city code on garbage cans: City code 17.12.190: "No portion of any side yard or the street side of a corner lot, or any portion of the front yard on any lot in a residential area shall be used for the permanent storage of . . . garbage or rubbish receptacles. . . . ‘Permanent storage,’ as used in this subsection, means the presence for a period of forty-eight (48) or more consecutive hours."

There you have it: The language that the flyer would have you think is so alarming is actually LESS expansive than the existing code language, which was approved by . . . Well, you know who voted for the existing code. So if Rosemead Partners wants to attack the new staff proposal as too extreme, why aren’t they also attacking the people responsible for the even broader language that exists in the current code?

Obviously, their mailer has nothing to do with the property maintenance ordinance and everything to do with trying to undermine support for the new council majority, the truth be damned.

That stupid Rosemead

Anyone with garbage cans in front will probably be ok with the law. Only the most disagreeable people will think it's some kind of insult to be told to move the trash to the back.

That stupid Rosemead

No doubt about that.

. Today's topic will be "attractive nuisance."

The mailer warns ominously that, if the new ordinance passes, "your pool" may be declared "an attractive nuisance if it is unfenced!"

. This is just more of them playing on the ignorance and scare-ability of the casual observer.  Most of you probably already know what it means to be an "attractive nuisance":  That's when you have something that would "entice" a curious or adventurous person to a place where they may suffer harm, and you fail to take reasonable steps to prevent this from happening.  That's why they gotta put fences around construction sites:  Otherwise, a child (or adult) would be drawn to the sight of all that lumber, rebar, bulldozers, or what ever.  If there were no fence and a person were to tresspass and suffer injury, legally-speaking, you'd be partially liable for their harm.  You presented them with an attractive nuisance and did not take reasonable steps to prevent someone from coming there.

. With regard to a swimming pool, it is already a matter of state common (or civil) law in California that an unfenced pool is an attractive nuisance.  If someone is killed or injured after they came to use your unfenced pool, you'll be potentially liable to a massive civil judgement, for both actual and punitive damages.  As far as state law is concerned, you should have known better.

. And that's the case whether the city council passes a new ordinance or not:  If someone is enticed by an attractive nuisance and they suffer harm, you're at fault for not taking reasonable steps to deter the person from coming to your attractive nuisance.  It doesn't matter if the tresspasser shouldn't have been on your property in the first place.  It doesn't matter whether or not you agree with this interpretation of liability.  This is the state of liability law in California, and no act of a city council can change that.

. So rather than blaming the city staff for putting down in proposed code what is already the law in CA, you really ought to be thanking them for putting out a warning to those unfamiliar with the state's liability laws:  Fence your pools, fence off your construction sites, and don't "entice" people to come on to your property, where they may then suffer physical injury and then sue you for all you've got.

That stupid Rosemead

I never thought about that - that people would misinterpret that term.

That mailer is insulting, because it exploits what might be a common lack of understanding.

The tree branches being a public nuisance is similar. It's not the leaves, but the risk of the branch breaking off and smashing a hole in the neighbor's roof.

That stupid Rosemead

You're absolutely right:  They're playing on fear and ignorance.

.     Today's discussion phrases:  "City inspectors will be able to declare a A Code Violation (if) your property "will tend to result in" a diminution of property values!"  Later in the flyer, it also says that, if the proposed statute passes, your property could be declared a "Public Nuisance for any condition that "tends to constitute blight!"

.     Their argument here is supposed to be that this new language is too broad.  The cockroach (and let me be perfectly clear--I am not referring to anyone who is now or once did serve on the Rosemead city council) said the language should be more specific.

.     But let's compare this to the existing code:  section 9.12.070 of the existing code says that if  "Any person, firm or corporation . . . willfully permits any part of the property to become so unsightly as to detract from the appearance of the immediate neighborhood," they may be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

.     Which language is broader?  Which would be harder to mount a legal defense against?  And, yet, which language has Rosemead Partners chosen to attack?  Well, the "new" language, of course, because the city councilmembers they support wrote the old language!

.     Once again, I say:  This mailer was not intended to "inform" anyone.  It was intend to scare people into thinking that a new and sweeping change in property maintenance langauge was being proposed, and that, if it passed, homeowners would suddenly be subect to new, unprecedented, unreasonable, and invasive requirements.  In fact, however, an examination of the existing code shows that even broader language has always applied to Rosemead residents.

.     Yet, it is this very broadness of language that has made enforcing the old code so problematic.  Judges don't like broad and vague language.  In fact, code enforcement officers don't necessarily like broad and vague language, either.  So now, at long-last, when some new city staff members move into town, they look at the existing code, and wonders why our ordidances are so out-of-date and unenforceable.  They look at the language of existing property maintenance ordiances in other cities, and bring one to Rosemead for our city council to consider.  But rather than exercise actual deliberation in trying to understand why other cities have adopted this language, Rosemead Partners decides to try to blow up the whole process.  That's irresponsible.

.     But at least they're being honest.  They no longer claim to be about good policy or progress for our city.  They are now saying outright that this is about the 2009 elections.  So when you and your neighbors get another postcard from Rosemead Partners, please exercise some healthy skepticism about their message and their motivations.