May 22, 2003
Democracy Works

Tonight instead of putting my girls to bed and goofing off, I went to a City Council Meeting.

In South Pasadena, my town, we have a law that prohibits parking from 2AM to 6AM without a permit. Many towns have the same thing. In the past, it was simple for me to get a permit. In 2001, they changed the conditions to get a permit, and I started getting denied. It sucked.

I got a letter from the Police Department telling that the Overnight Parking Ordinance would be discussed at tonight's council meeting. Michele and I agree that I should go. Those that know me can attest that I can be somewhat of a bulldog in discussions and arguements.

The meeting started at 7:30PM. The part I was interested in was #20 on the agenda. Yuck. I had to sit through quite a bit of business.

The first big deal was the 'tree crisis'. Evidently at my daughter's school, there are two trees that an arborist determined should come down ASAP. A second arborist agreed. Simple eh? Not so. THe Board of Education and the City Council came into conflict over the tree issue. If the BoE cut down the trees without consulting the Natural Resources Committee of the Council, there was going to be hell to pay.

The plan was to cut down the tree this Saturday as long as the Planning Commission agreed. At somepoint the Council got so frothed up over the issue they were discussing whether the threat was some dangerous that we ought all run over to the school with chain saws right now so that we wouldn't have to wait until Saturday. The City Manager, the sanest of the bunch said, "I think the trees have another 24 hours in them." I see the trees every day. We probably have 5 years before they posed a danger.

After the tree crisis, we moved onto the dramatic issue of filming on Hanscomb. They filmed a movie scene up there and parked two trucks near the filming. A guy who lives on the street, Dr. Yet, was very, very upset.

He did a lot of stomping and blustering. The City Staff knew he was going to through a hissy fit and had all their rebuttals lined up. Dr. Yet was not happy. No matter what they said he got redder and redder in the face. Anger++

Next a guy sat down in front of me with a laptop. He turned it on and linux popped up. No Gnome of KDE for this guy, looked like oldschool window managers for him. I'm wondering what he's doing and I see him bring up EMACS. EMACS? He then proceed to start fixing code. He did this for two hours while the meeting rolled on. Now I can see taking a laptop to surf or blog in the meeting to kill time, but coding? Wierd.

Finally we got to the parking issue. There were about 10 people asking for changes so they could get permits and 3 people asking for no change so the 'aesthetics' would be preserved. I said my peace and sat down waiting to see what they would do.

After much blustering about why change was bad, one councilman presented a compromise plan to allow each household a minimum of one parking permit. More wrangling and talk of garages, bad neighbors, and who's awake at 2-6AM.

Finally at 11:30PM, FOUR HOURS after the meeting started, the council voted 3 to 2 to modify the ordinance to the compromise. Victory.

You can fight City Hall.

Posted by michael at May 22, 2003 12:11 AM