Monday April 23rd Henry Lamb & Maria Rutenburg “Public servants” who serve ONLY themselves…

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Monday April 23rd

Hr 1 Henry Lamb joined me to discuss visioning meetings.  Here is his latest newsletter.

Hr 2 Maria Rutenburg joined me to discuss her fight for property rights in San Mateo Calif. Feel free to contact her if you so desire

Below is an email she sent exposing the criminality of our so called public servants. Most serve only themselves.

Fellow homeowners and tenants,

So, building dept tells us they are here to protect our “life, health and safety”? Look at the actual cases. You can find these and other similar cases in San Mateo County Building and Planning Database, click on each case # to go directly into the county’s info for that case.
County says: “Building Code Enforcement Officers may only come onto private property with the permission of the property owner or with a legally obtained Right-of-Entry warrant issued by a court,” “Planning and Building staff do not go onto property without permission.”

Actual case #1
In 2011 San Mateo County building inspector walked onto an unincorporated Menlo Park property without permission, without warrant, and without anyone present.  “ Before exiting the property’s rear yard, one of the main house’s rear doors was unlocked; and so I  (the inspector) went into ..the main house,.” proceeding to issue violation notice. ( inspector’s report, case SWN2011-00026)

 County says: “Planning and Building Department only requires the documentation that is necessary to resolve identified permit violations.”

Actual case  #2
An owner of a historic tavern in Montara was changing pendant lights and ceiling fans without permit. She received a code a violation notice for these items. The county did not stop at that, they demanded a full review of legality of her house where “building dept WILL need to do a thorough review for all units compliance with applicable building electrical and fire codes”  (inspector’s report, case # SWN2011-00005)

Actual case #3
An owner re-roofed without first applying for a building permit.  After receiving a notice, she applied for re-roofing permit in 2004. The county’s “condition is that applicant needs to arrange for an inspection or arrange with inspector time he will be allowed to inspect the rest of the property.”  (SWN2004-00081)The owner refused inspector to access the inside. Owner had to pay  investigation fee of $1960. (BLD2004-00997). The case remains open, roof inspection never signed off and the owner keeps accruing fees every year.

Actual case #3:
A homeowner in unincorporated San Mateo county obtained a permit to replace a water-heater. During the water-heater inspection, the building inspector went into the kitchen and issued a violation notice for what looked like an updated kitchen. (SWN2008-00025). Over the counter kitchen permit and one 10 min inspection totaled  additional $1,416 to the county.  (BLD2008-00259).

Actual case #4:
In 2001,  a North Fair Oaks homeowner received a violation notice for unpermitted siding, window and porch railing replacement (SWN2001-00042). In 2011, county sent a  stop work notice to the new owner of the house (purchased in 2009).  Even though the violation notice alleged nothing but exterior work, Building and Planning  requested  full building plans for the house inside and out and permission  for a full house inspection. The counter person said that if certain information is not readily apparent, “(the owner) might have to open up walls” to see how it was done some 10 years ago to reflect it accurately on the plans.  When the owner asked for a more common sense approach, the counter person called into question the legality of the house even though she had affirmative proof in file in front of her.  (BLD2011-01399).

County says:  “The cost of permits and the documentation required depend on the scope of the work that was done without a permit.” “The fees cannot exceed the actual cost of providing these services and at the current rates are less than the actual cost of the service.”

Actual case #5:

County alleged illegal bathroom remodel and owner refused the inspector to come inside and investigate (SWN2009-00135). Eventually, the owner complied with the building permit requirement but was imposed a total of $16,930.45 of building permit fees, which included a penal investigation fees of $8,764.00 in excess of the $8,170.45 in building permit fees. (BLD2009-01421)

Actual case #6:

A North Fair Oaks owner of a 900 sq.feet house had a bathroom and kitchen remodeled without a permit and changed the windows from single pane to double pane within the existing window frame size and received a violation notice. The total cost of a building permit was  $4,061, which included an investigation fee of $ 2,134, in excess of the $1,927 in permit fees. ( BLD2012-00257) The county collected a design review exemption fee of about $500 and made the Property Owner go through an exemption process. After publication of the case in my previous post, the exemption fee was refunded to the Property Owner  (PLN2012-00055).
Actual case #7:
Homeowner in unincorporated San Mateo wants the fence in the back of his property to be 8 feet, 2 feet higher than the 6 feet allowed. He went through the planning process; costing him $1,805, which does NOT include the building permit fee.  (PLN2012-00085)

County says: Building and Planning “requirements designed to protect the health and safety of State residents and the value of their property.”

Actual case #8:
An unincorporated Menlo Park homeowner put a trellis at entry in front yard and received code violation notice  SWN2010-00033 .

Actual case #9:
A property in North Fair Oaks, a neighbor to the SWN2001-00042 case described above, had a shed built without permit in the backyard and violating setback requirement. A proper complaint was made to the Building and Planning Department  in 2009. No action taken. In 2011 a shed caught on a fire, burning the shed and the neighboring property fence and destroyed her landscaping and patio furniture. Fire dept put out the fire and a second complaint was made. As of today, no violation notices were issued to the shed owner.

County says: “The violation fees are designed to recoup the significant additional cost of conducting building inspections on houses that have already been completed where drywall, concrete and siding are already in place. “

Actual case #10:

A Homeowner in North Fair Oaks had a tree house built without permit and received a violation notice  SWN2009-00102 . The tree house had to be demolished and the Homeowner had to  pay a fee of $1,879. 85 which included a $1,000  penal investigation fee (BLD2009-01218).

Do you know that:
Current fee to just replace one bathroom ceiling fan connected to a duct system is  $160+$29+ 5% legal +4% It=$206.011. With the pending fees increase proposal this permit is going to be  $215+40+4%ITt and 5% legal+$1+$5=  $283.95

Part  costs about $40, installation about $100

With the Building department struggling not to lay-off a single employee, the cost of permits has gone up tremendously in the last 7 years.  We are at the point when it is frequently cheaper to do the work than to get a permit. The permit fees went up 160% in 2005 from the 2001 fee levels.  In 2005 a Building and Planning task force specifically recommended NOT to increase fees.  The homeowner’s price tag for permits went up in 2009 (Board’s resolution 070409)  and again in 2011 (Board’s Resolution 071529).

None of the neighboring cities have as much managers and supervisors as San Mateo County’s Planning and Building Department.  Deputy Director of  Community Development along with an Executive Aide and Executive Secretary cost the Property Owners of Unincorporated San Mateo $ 461,426.00 as of 2010 year end.
With new  construction levels in a declining trend during the past 5+ years, the Building and Planning department is determined to raise revenues through aggressive code enforcement and exorbitant permit fees that hurt all of us and stand in a way of the region’s recovery.

Please do not give up your rights! Spread the word, get people involved. Keep the pressure on, write to Supervisors and let them know that this cannot continue and major policy changes need to be made.


Please also contact our Congresswoman Jackie Speier:

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