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City postpones appeal hearing after hint of lawsuit

Posted on January 31, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun
Developer Bill Jasper wants to build three homes on the Sonoma hillside to the west of Fourth Street East at Brazil Street.
Developer Bill Jasper wants to build three homes on the Sonoma hillside to the west of Fourth Street East at Brazil Street.

The City of Sonoma has postponed a permit hearing after receiving a letter contesting the appeal of a residential development on a prominent Sonoma hillside — a letter that cites possible litigation and fines if the plans aren’t approved.

The Planning Commission had last year approved separate applications by Bill Jasper for the development of three residences on three lots at Fourth Street East and Brazil Street. Those decisions were subsequently appealed to the City Council. A public hearing date had been set February for February 5.

The City has postponed that hearing after formal contact by the legal firm Zacks, Freeman & Patterson, which represents Jasper. “The projects continue to comply with all objective general plan and zoning standards and criteria,” it states.

The letter rejects the appeal argument that the plans disregard the Sonoma Hillside Ordinance, enacted by the City in 2003, limiting construction to 5,000 total square feet per lot.

The letter also contests the appeal assertion that the project, which covers three lots, has been presented as three independent proposals “in order to avoid the responsibility of undertaking an environmental impact report, which would consider the combined impacts of the development.”

Among several other points, the letter argues that state housing law “compels the City to approve” the projects, particularly when “we are in a housing crisis.”

The law firm warned the City Council that ignoring state housing law could lead to fines of $30,000. “If litigation were to arise, our clients would prevail.”

The City is postponing the meeting to research the law and prepare a response, the appellants said in a post to their website, Protect Sonoma. “We don’t think it will take very long, and are confident our city leaders will recognize this implied threat for what it is: a bully tactic.”

 

 



5 thoughts on “City postpones appeal hearing after hint of lawsuit

  1. Jasper is such a lovable guy. Nothing like a threatening letter from his lawyer to endear a rich Trumphole to the good people of Sonoma. Have to wonder if this letter is from the same lawfirm formerly known as Curly Larry & Moe LLP.

    1. Naw. Say what you will, can’t fault Jasper for testing the limits of the City’s ordinance, which he has the right to do if he has the money to pay the lawyers. And he does. At the very least his lawyer’s letter is a wake-up call to the City and its desire to preserve the hillside backdrop from future development by far less charming characters. If it turns out that the City’s hillside protection ordinance has a big loophole in it because of a state law or otherwise, perhaps the City needs to patch it and find out how such a loophole was overlooked and/or failed to be closed in the first place.

      1. It would be hard to get less charming characters… And the only trouble with the close the loophole argument is that the city has no hillside left after these guys build more eyesores. Closing a loophole won’t matter. And whose side will the city attorney take?

  2. The law firm warned the City Council that ignoring state housing law could lead to fines of $30,000. “If litigation were to arise, our clients would prevail.” Really!!! This law was created to streamline the process to build affordable housing, as there is a shortage. How on earth do 3 mega mansions over of 10,000 square feet each inhabited by a few 1%ers meet the goal of fast tracking affordable housing?

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