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By Jonathan Goetz

January 17, 2018 (Lemon Grove) – On Tuesday, Lemon Grove City Attorney Jim Lough presented to Council Ordinance changes for the Municipal Code that the Council chose to table.  Council wanted more time to review it and compare differences between the new verbiage and the old verbiage.  Lough is expected to bring it back for a vote Tuesday, February 20.

Both Mayor Racquel Vasquez and Councilmember Jennifer Mendoza had served as Planning Commissioners, and both are still on the Council after recent elections. They voted against a 3 to 2 decision by the last Council to vest the powers of the Planning Commission to the City Council, in what their opponents labeled as an effort to hold City Council more accountable for development decisions.

Vasquez, and Councilmembers David Arambula and Jennifer Mendoza voted to bring back the Planning Commission while Councilmembers Jerry Jones and Matt Mendoza voted to oppose, as covered by Rostra and the Union Tribune.

The vesting of the Planning Commission’s duties to the City Council had been affirmed in a 3 to 2 vote by the old Council, with former Mayor Mary Sessom and Councilmembers George Gastil and Jerry Jones voting yes, and then Councilmembers Jennifer Mendoza and Racquel Vasquez opposed.

Councilmembers David Arambula and Matt Mendoza have replaced Sessom and Gastil, with Arambula siding with Vasquez and J Mendoza in voting “aye” to reinstating the Planning Commission, while Councilman Matt Mendoza sides with Jerry Jones in voting “no.”

Gastil recommends that the Council still take some of the issues that it routed to the Planning Commission. 

Lough recommends at least routing business license appeals to the City Council, to ensure it complies with applicable law.

Directions to Lough for the proposal, tabled to tentatively February 20, included bringing back the per diem. But Council seemed content to leave it with the new four-year terms for members instead of the old three-year terms, which staff testified may have politicized the appointments.

Council also wants to compare the new version with the old version. Lough said that he assumed that the Council wanted a fresh start congruent with all applicable laws. In changing the Municipal Code to reinstate the Planning Commission, it is a good time for Lough to ensure the Municipal Code complies with a myriad of applicable laws, including on which appeals go to Council and which go to the Planning Commission.

During public comment, Jim Ellis (photo, right) testified that Roundup can cause cancer and discouraged its use at City Parks.

Adonis McKenzie testified that his dog was mauled while being walked on a leash. The attacking dog escaped the yard through a hole in the fence, a hole which McKenzie said is still there. There were gruesome images of his dog’s injuries.

Meanwhile, good Samaritan Mary Anne Soto paid $2,500 in vet bills to have the dog’s wounds tended, and for eye surgery, and was also there to testify on McKenzie’s behalf.

The Council also expressed interest in continuing discussion on a new Adopt a Park program, while the Lemon Grove History Minute was led by Lemon Grove School District’s Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Berman.