Home NEWS Government Lafayette’s Planning Commission Gutted After Council Adopts New Conflict Of Interest Policy

Lafayette’s Planning Commission Gutted After Council Adopts New Conflict Of Interest Policy

SHARE

A Lafayette City Council vote adopting a revised conflict of interest policy for Planning and Design Review Commissioners triggered the mass resignation of five of seven serving planning commissioners this week – making it impossible for the commission to achieve a quorum and leaving the city scrambling for a way to field a replacing body.

Commissioners Jeanne Ateljevich, Tom Chastain, Will Lovitt, Peter Gutzwiller, Patricia Curtin submitted their resignations immediately after Monday’s 3-2 council vote in favor of a policy requiring commissioners to resign from their respective commissions in the event of a potential conflict of interest scenario.

Mayor Don Tatzin and council member Mike Anderson voted against the policy.

Commissioners and members of the public speaking on the item Monday expressed concern with the “draconian” appearance of forced resignation when no wrong has come to light and said the move will make it hard for the city to find volunteer commission members to serve on the respective commissions.

Those fears were realized that night and the next day as resignation letters were tendered, some not without a little heat attached.

“It is sad when a town’s democratic body votes to disenfranchise a class of its citizens,” former commissioner Tom Chastain wrote in his tendered resignation. “For illustration of this you only need to listen to the voices of the Council, one of which described how a conflict of interest on an issue resulted in his declaring the need to recuse himself. Apparently the same remedy is not suitable for commissioners.”

The policy was drafted and revised to address potential cases of conflict at the commission level, but took the extra step of demanding resignation instead of recusal – which allowed commissioners to exempt themselves from discussions regarding projects they may have been involved with personally or professionally.

“I am truly shocked that our leaders believe one is guilty before proven innocent,” wrote Commissioner Patricia Curtin. “This is not a rule I can stand by; it is a rule that runs counter to our democracy. I am equally sickened that the Council had the audacity to exempt themselves from this rule. In doing so they have created a false hierarchy I want no part of and is not healthy for our City or any city.”

A scheduled meeting of the planning commission set for April 2 has been canceled as a result of the decision and subsequent resignations. Mayor Don Tatzin has suggested that the City Council convene a meeting that evening to discuss next steps.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Has there been a documented case of conflict at the commission level? If yes then the rationale for the move is clear. If not, draconian may be a correct term.

  2. You want people with backgrounds in planning and construction et cetera, am I correct? And these people are volunteers – not public servants. And you want them to resign if there’s even a whiff of conflict of interest, with no proof of culpability or guilt? This does seem extreme, is there something below the surface lending impetus to the move?

  3. It’s hypocrisy at its worst; council can refuse but commissioner cannot; unacceptable, Lafayette deserves better

  4. Yeah Lafayette is typical for this. Look at the situation where the tax increase was voted down, people quit immediately because it no longer served their development motives. The typical claim is to say money is needed for gov employees to get a new building, money for improvement projects but in reality is a world of kick backs and contracts to family and friends.

    The lafayette commision has failed us in every way from allowing the largest parking lots to be built privately and even install meters in every spot. Also zero attempts are made to eleviate traffic, infact they actually make it worse but setting up parklits (extra seating placed on the shoulder / roadside. I think their conflicts of interests and corruption are proven by the result we have over the last decade.

  5. Disenfranchised? That is hilarious and kind of dramatic. The only people who have been disenfranchised are the people trying to get down Mt. Diablo Blvd without it taking 20 minutes because of congestion and construction. I will also have daily construction on BOTH sides of my apartment complex once the old office complex (next to Woodbury) with beautiful wood siding (which blends nicely in to the hillside) gets demolished for hundreds more apartments or condos. That project, by the way, IS financially linked to AND voted in favor of by a member of one of the city councils. I’d also be sickened if my meal ticket was taken away, but Lafayette voters have obviously had enough.

  6. This report is lacking as it fails to explain WHY the city council felt it was necessary to take this action. I find that interesting don’t you? And so many immediate resignations on just “principle”? Does not even remotely pass the smell test! The council are elected, and likely worried about their own jobs if they continued to ignore the pleas from residents to stop the poorly planned overbuilding that’s been led to the constant congestion downtown. Bye bye planning commission– back to your day jobs in real estate and development! The people have spoken!

Comments are closed.