Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Calaycay's Christmas lights solution goes "down in flames"

Last week, the city council spent about half an hour discussing whether to create a new law that would force all residents of the city to remove any holiday displays within one month after the holiday. That's right, if your Christmas lights, pumpkins and other festive decorations are outside too long, city code enforcement would be knocking on your door.

For a long list of reasons, the council voted down the ordinance. In nicer words, council members called the ordinance pointless, unnecessary and even questioned its constitutionality.

So why is the city council wasting time to consider such a proposal? Hundreds of residents have holiday lights mounted on their houses all year round and it's never been an issue before.

Keep in mind, it's not just a 30-minute discussion at the council meeting. City staff has to research the item, write up a staff report and ordinance and a present its findings to the council.

The Planning Commission also had to consider the item. Like the council, the commission overwhelmingly opposed the ordinance, saying it wasn't in the best interest of the city.

Not to mention the fact that the city council has already discussed this matter before, and chose not to take action. Many of the same issues were brought up at both meetings.

The answer is that the mayor has some power to set the agenda for council meetings, picking and choosing items that interest him/her. In this case, Mayor Corey Calaycay brought this item before the council after no doubt hearing an earful from one unhappy resident.

That unhappy resident is Robert Swartz, who's been in an ongoing dispute with his neighbor Richard Viselli. Each year Viselli transforms his home into an over-the-top Christmas lights show. Nothing would make Swartz happier than having the show completely shut down.

So 2 neighbors can't resolve their differences, one goes and complains to the Mayor and now everyone in the city has to take their Christmas lights down?

Even if this ordinance was approved, little would be resolved between the neighbors. The brunt of the conflict between them is about the actual lights show. Swartz complained at the meeting about Viselli setting up lights several months before the holiday. There's nothing in the ordinance that would regulate either of these things.

"We expect people to take their trash cans in at the end of the day, I figured it wasn't too far removed from what we already have in Claremont that we could at least investigate this as a possible solution to the problem," Calaycay said.

When it was clear the proposal was "going to go down in flames," he added, "To those neighbors who were hoping that this might work, I apologize. And to those who think this is the most stupid idea in the world, I also apologize to you."

The council voted 4 to 1 against the new law.

"I hope this doesn't come back [to the council]," Councilmember Sam Pedroza said. "I hope this is something that you guys figure out and take care of it."

I couldn't agree more.

1 comment:

  1. This is especially concerning as the LED becomes more and more common place as a lighting fixture. Will the city force me to stop lighting my porch with the latest and most cost-effective technologies because one of Calaycay's supporters can't talk civilly and constructively with his neighbor?

    Well, at least the Courier got some ad revenue out of this issue during the commenting period!