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Citizen Activists Win With Council

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A proposed fee hike to $500 for citizens challenging development decisions before the City Council seems to have been derailed for now.

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Details from the L.A. Weekly:

Peeved at the less-than-transparent ways of downtown politicians...environmental justice groups, homeowner associations and neighborhood councils joined forces to stop the passage of a steep new fee hike charged to those who want to oppose developments in their area.....

"Everyone said we did not receive notice" that existing fees paid by citizens who challenge development plans were about to be doubled, or in some cases sextupled, from $74 to as much as $500, says Daniel Wright, a land-use and environmental attorney and board member of the Mount Washington Homeowners Alliance....

Wright and other community activists such as Hollywood Highlands Democratic Club Vice-President Bob Blue, were alarmed that the City Council was thinking about jacking up "planning appeal" fees for ordinary citizens -- while decreasing and capping those same fees for real-estate developers.....

Why are citizen activists so concerned with this potential hike?

Planning appeals are used by people to voice concerns about everything from strip malls to skyscrapers, in the hope that Planning Department officials will then require the developers to make the proposals more neighborhood-friendly....

But to get to that point, Angelenos still have to go through a costly and time-consuming process that involves paying the appeal fees, taking time off work to attend appeal hearings -- almost always held during the day -- and constantly talking with Planning Department officials, City Council members and their aides.

"The system already seems to favor developers," says Blue....At press time [last week], Wright expected council members to vote to lower and then cap the appeal fees paid by developers but retain the $74 charge for average citizens who want to challenge a project.

Ron Kaye also came out against the proposed fee hike, and against Council member Greig Smith (District 12) and his support for it.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Alexbcthompson. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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