Claremont Insider: Staff Efficiency

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Staff Efficiency

Claremont's city government has become a model of efficiency. Our city staff has figured out how to shrink 55 pages of analysis into a mere three, as you can see from the agenda materials for tonight's city council meeting.

Item #11 on the agenda is a proposed amendment to the city's Land Use and Development Code. Staff proposes that the council approve raising the amount charged to businesses for the city's in-lieu parking fee from $9,000 per parking space to $20,000.

The in-lieu fee is charged to Claremont Village businesses - a restaurant adding seating spaces, for instance - that want to increase expand or intensify their use but don't have land available to add parking spaces for the additional customers. The business can instead pay the in-lieu fee, which is supposed to go into a fund dedicated to buying land for parking or to building new parking structures.

In 1990, the last time the in-lieu parking fee was raised, the council agenda materials contained 55 pages that included a breakdown of how staff arrived at the per-space cost estimate:

Click on Image to Read

The 55 pages of staff materials also included an initial study under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and a negative declaration with several mitigations to offset adverse impacts.

So, in 1990 you had at least the appearance of staff doing the work to justify their recommendation that the in-lieu fee be set at $9,000.

Fast-forward to tonight's council meeting, and you see a three-page document with no supporting analysis. And two of the pages are taken up by the proposed council resolution language with the code change concering the fees. Community Development Director Anthony Witt and Housing and Redevelopment Manager Brian Desatnik simply have one sentence that says "The average cost of a structured parking space today is approximately $20,000."

Click on Image to Read

No supporting data, as in 1990. They just pull a number out of thin air that may or may not be true. We don't know because there's no information to evaluate the statement - Claremont 400 reasoning distilled to perfection!

This is the "process" that City Councilperson Linda Elderkin and her friends over at the League of Women Voters crow on and on about. And businesses in town will pay for that process - a process the Claremont Chamber of Commerce seems to endorse, given its silence on the matter.

No doubt Witt and Desatnik cut the material down to three pages to save the city the expense of their staff time (Witt: $148,223.77 in earnings per year, plus $51,532.43 in benefits; Desatnik: $111,846.06 in earnings, plus $43,450.38 in benefits).

Sometimes you don't get what you pay for.