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Impt. Developments re Upcoming Scherer Park/NLB Police Stn. Hearing:

  • Vice Mayor Dan Baker, who'll preside at July 17 Council hearing, will let appellants use audio visual equipment
  • Mayor O'Neill's office tells Ms. Porter the Mayor OK'd this
  • Agreed procedure b/w Baker, appellants and city staff: appellants and city staff can both use audio visual equipment and will get 30 minutes per side, plus five minute rebuttals, then public will be heard
  • On CEQA issues, appellants Porter, Cantrell & May retain noted environmental att'y Jan Chatten-Brown
    [ disclosure: Publisher Bill Pearl was part of a committee of LB activists that asked Councilmembers over a year ago to restore the public's ability to use the Council chamber's audio visual equipment. This had been allowed under former Mayor Ernie Kell.]

    (July 12, 2001) -- reports below several important developments following-up on fast breaking events reported by us yesterday.

  • Vice Mayor Dan Baker has told Stop Taking Our Parks president Gigi "Fast Elk" Porter that he will let her (and collectively, the appellants) and city staff use the Council chamber's audio visual equipment at a July 17 Council hearing on whether to take 2.5 acres of Scherer Park land for a LB north division police station.

    Ms. Porter, along with Ann Cantrell and Don May, are the appellants in the hearing, having filed formal appeals of the Planning Commission's decision in the matter.

    As reported yesterday by, Mayor O'Neill staff told Ms. Porter she could not use the audio visual equipment in keeping with the incumbent Mayor's policy (which has been followed with tacit Council approval).

    City Attorney Robert Shannon subsequently sent a memo to the Mayor and City Council (full text can be viewed by clicking here) which said his office has previously advised that "the decision [on use of audio visual equipment] is within the discretion of the Mayor/City Council." Mr. Shannon's memo concluded that for due process reasons in the hearing, if the appellants can't use the audio visual equipment, city staff won't be able to do so in the hearing either.

    Responding to the fast moving developments, Vice Mayor Baker, who will preside at the July 17 hearing in Mayor O'Neill's absence, told today:

    "I received the City Attorney's memo which basically outlines the parameters applicable to the appellants and appellees [city staff] and I think it's appropriate to use the audio visual equipment to present the evidence in this case. Particularly in this case, the diagrams, the photographs and all of the relevant information pertaining to the proposed construction site, the current site and the park overall are clearly important."

    Vice Mayor Baker also told he had reached agreement with the parties on dividing time for their presentations. [This isn't required but is often used in other forums, including Congress, to equalize contested presentations.]

    The appellants (Porter, Cantrell and May) and appellees (city staff) will each have 30 minutes per side, plus five minutes for each side for rebuttal. The appellants and city staff will both be allowed to use the audio visual equipment. This will be followed by testimony from the public.

    Ms. Porter told that after Vice Mayor Baker telephoned her this morning, discussed and confirmed the hearing arrangements, she received a phone call from Mayor O'Neill's office saying the Mayor had OK'd use of the audio visual equipment.

    LB's Council-enacted Municipal Code is silent on the public's use of the audio video equipment. With tacit Council approval, former Mayor Ernie Kell allowed it. Likewise with tacit Council approval, incumbent Mayor Beverly O'Neill has not allowed it for the general public but has allowed some developers to use the equipment.

    Under the Municipal Code, "The Mayor, or other presiding officer, shall have general direction of the Council Chamber."

  • In a separate development, has learned the appellants have retained noted environmental/land use attorney and CEQA litigator Jan Chatten-Brown. Ms. Chatten-Brown and her law firm recently represented the Surfrider Foundation in a CEQA/EIR court suit challenging the Port of LB's EIR, and the City Council's rezoning, of outer Queensway Bay for a Carnival Cruise ship terminal.

    As previously reported by, the action against Carnival was settled, letting the Carnival Cruise ship terminal proceed, but only after Carnival agreed (among other things) not to oppose certain actions environmentalists consider important to reconfiguring the LB breakwater. The settlement is contingent on City Hall amending its zoning verbiage to preclude multiple cruise ship terminals in the area.

    At the City Council's July 17 Scherer Park hearing, city staff will ask Councilmembers to certify City Hall's EIR and rezone roughly 2.5 acres of Scherer Park park land as "institutional" to accommodate an expanded North Division LBPD station.

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