DAVID BIRCHIM admitted he's refused to enforce the law for 20 years -- intentional lawbreaking. (November PZB meeting1:03:00).
At the Tuesday, November 7, 2017 meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission, developers sought to win approval for some twelve cottages of 550 square feet, plus porches along Riberia Street, once the worst street in all of St. Johns County. The proposed 5% increase in lot coverage requires PZB approval.
Several concerned residents opposed the move, including me.
One issue was lack of parking.
PZB member Ms. Karen Zander asked about the lack of plans showing required parking. Neighbors raised it and Mitchell responded, starting 34 minutes into the meeting. Ms. Zander started speaking 48 minutes into the hearing. City code requires two parking spaces per single family home. (51:30; 53:44; 54:53), two parking spaces with 9.5 x 19 feet each.
Then St. Augustine City Attorney ISABELLE CHRISTINE LOPEZ and City Planning and Building Director DAVID BIRCHIM, inflamed, fuming, red-faced, tried to shut up Ms. Zander. (52:13)
Not the first time. He's done it before.
Dupey DAVID BIRCHIM kind of reminds me of that time when sexist, misogynist rebarbative retromingent United States Senate Republican Leader MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY/ASHLAND OIL) invoked United States Senate Rule XIX to stop criticism of then-Senator Jefferson Bureaugard Sessions, III (quoting a letter from my first boss, Ted Kennedy, calling him unfit for a federal judgeship). McCONNELL said of Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MASS.),
Starting at xxxxx, watch the exchange where red-faced St. Augustine Planning and Building Director DAVID BIRCHIM barked at Ms. Zander, stating that for twenty years that he has never enforced City Code requirement for parking for residential properties. He said before he got here, AMY SKINNER never enforced it either. As if PZB members worked for the staff. As if corrupt WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS, who hired them, were still the City Manager.
The technical term for government refusing to enforce the law is "desuetude." BIRCHIM is a lawbreaker. And as Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis, said it best,
“Our government ... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”
Watch the tape here: http://staugustinefl.swagit.com/play/11072017-748
Item 4B2017-0146 Todd Mitchell – Applicant
Riberia Street, LLC Etal and New Castle Homes,
LLC – Owner
216 Riberia Street and PID #2133500210
To increase the allowed lot coverage, and to reduce
the side building setback on a Lot described as Lot
5 to construct single family unit(s) on properties
known as Parcel ID #2133500000 and Parcel ID
Witnesses included zoning law expert Debra Valenti-Epstein, Judith Seraphin, George Ellis, Marilyn Herman.
Ms. Valenti-Epstein asked for a continuance, as did Ms. Judith Seraphin. I asked for a denial.
Ms. Valenti-Epstein said the applicant's fill dirt and permit activities must be examined to determine whether they were legal.
Several witnesses opposed granting a 5% lot variance to insert "twelve little houses on twelve little skinny lots that go all the way out to the Sebastian River" to make them large enough to be legal. Mitchell said he could legally have nightly rentals on the property.
A supporter of the developers said that they could build a bar there. PZB member Karen Zander said current law forbids it. (50:00)
Developer Todd Mitchell said if his lot coverage variance application was denied he could legally to build three story houses or parking or other commercial uses if his variance did not get its way.
Threatening worse consequences is typical behavior by developers, the sere remnant of the days when the late GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE practiced zoning and planning law. McCLURE always threatened about how something "much worse"could be built on property if his dodgy developer clients, ROGERS TOWERS clients, did not get their way. Without the variance, "I will go up," Mitchell said. (58:07).
Footnote I was threatened by one of the two furious developers as they left the room, after the intense project was questioned by PZB members and citizens; without properly introducing himself or showing any decent respect for business-like behavior, the incensed bully in quo invited me to come "outside," for fisticuffs.). SAPD needs to assign an officer to future PZB and HARB meetings.
Come to the next Planning and Zoning Board meeting (December 5th, 2017).
Decisions get made by people who show up.
Testify. Speak out. Be not afraid.