The California Supreme Court has made an important ruling against the City of Sacramento. In the case of Petrovich Development Co. LLC v. City of Sacramento, the court upheld an Appellate Court ruling that found bias among City Council members who heard an appeal of a City Planning Commission decision. And the case has already had an impact on how land use decisions are made in California:
"In Petrovich, the court found that a city council member acted with proven bias and demonstrated his mind was made up when he advocated against a development project before a public hearing in which the council served as final decision maker. Text and email evidence in the Petrovich case demonstrated the members’ efforts leading up to the public hearing to ensure the project was not approved."Kimberly Rivers, “Fair and Unbiased” - New case law led to Ventura Mayor’s recusal" (VC Reporter, 8/5/2020, https://vcreporter.com/2020/08/fair-and-unbiased-new-case-law-led-to-ventura-mayors-recusal/)
We wrote about the Appellate Court’s ruling back in June of 2018, in our post “Sometimes a Supervisor cannot be biased”, when we pointed out that several contentious land use projects in Arden Arcade have gone to the Board of Supervisors as appeals from decisions made by lower County government bodies - like the Anton Butano Apartments or the Arden Creek Town Center. As we wrote then:
“....it might be legal for a Supervisor to make a biased decision (e.g. clearly favoring a campaign-donor friend in the face of constituent opposition) when the Supervisors are the first level of decision-making, but not when they sit as an appellate body.”Our very own elves on 6/4/2018 in "Sometimes a Supervisor cannot be biased"
The California Globe recently wrote about the Supreme Court upholding the Petrovich decision, asserting that the case will be referenced in future court cases involving civil rights and Brown Act violations. Will our Esteemed Board of Supervisors get the message? Probably not, even if developer Petrovich exercises his right to now claim millions of dollars from the City of Sacramento. We’re all used to our local leaders causing us taxpayers to shell out gazillions of bucks for their malfeasance (looking at you, Sheriff Jones). Everybody ho-hums when our Supervisors consistently bless any old development project despite public opposition and come hell or high water. But this time there is an added dimension, as the Globe article points out. The Petrovich case has now exposed the Sacramento Mayor and one of their City Council Members (maybe more, depending on discovery) to PERSONAL liability for making a biased decision. Betcha our unethical (as we reported in Nov. 2016) Supervisor is glad she is retiring.