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End paid parking 

It's the city of Paso Robles' own fault its downtown parking program is such a mess

I filed a complaint with the California Bar Association against the Paso Robles city attorney. At stake here is the principle of rule of law, whether we take laws seriously or just let government officials use their position to evade justice and do whatever they want without facing the consequences.

My point is the city attorney is charged under the rules of conduct with giving the best legal advice and sticking to the law. I believe that the city attorney basically made the Brown Act toothless and gave the city permission to violate the state Constitution. I understand that the city attorney feels she is working in the best interests of the client, and I'm not accusing her of being malicious—just overlooking some of the points I've brought up.

I filed a cease and desist letter against the city over the City Council's motion that changed parking fees on Nov. 21, 2023. To me, that vote was a clear violation of the Brown Act. I showed the city three court cases with legal precedent, two that the plaintiffs won and another where the defendant won to clearly illustrate the proper application of the Brown Act.

The response from the city attorney was that the parking discussion was clearly listed on the agenda. Apparently, that justified making a motion and passing it. But the actual motion that was voted on was not on the agenda and should have been brought up at another City Council meeting for a first reading that included necessary public comment. The city attorney who subbed in at the meeting for Mrs. Hull agreed and this is in the video from the meeting.

The other thing that I find really, really confusing is the twisted logic I received from the city attorney regarding the fact that the city voted to run the parking by resolution and not by ordinance as required by the state Vehicle Code. Essentially, I was told that since the city had the right to change parking fees and zones by ordinance, it could write an ordinance that said it could do this by resolution. I don't think the code was written so that a city government could arbitrarily change it.

Amazingly enough, one council member criticized downtown employees of "gaming the system" while not holding the city attorney to the same standards. Citizens get called out for gaming the system but it's OK for the city to do so. That's why this has become an issue of fair, just, and honest government and not just parking management. The city's failure to negotiate and come up with a reasonable solution has blown this up into a crisis of how the city government operates.

The bottom line is that the city wants to make up for a deficit in the parking program at the expense of the downtown merchants. Wouldn't the downtown merchants like to make up for the increase of supply chain costs, loss of income due to pandemic restrictions, rampant inflation, and loss of business due to parking mismanagement, too? Why does the city, the servant of the taxpayer, have priority over the people who actually pay the taxes to support the city government?

The following is from my email to Mrs. Hull and one of the partners of her employer, Best and Best and Krieger:

"My final point is that everyone loses here because there is no real rule of law. It just comes down to who has the most clever lawyer and the ability to raise the resources to litigate. I've seen this happen too often with school board issues, and now with the city of Paso Robles. So think about this and decide whether you want to live by rule of law or just win but obstruct justice through legal tactics. That is the principle behind my complaint."

The city needs to just flat out end the parking program, stop wasting time on this issue, admit that it violated the Brown Act, and move on to much more important matters like crime, homelessness, and most of all fixing the crumbling roads. Δ

Gary Lehrer from Templeton calls himself a "citizen advocate." Send a response for publication to [email protected].

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