Can you fight City Hall? - Posted by Fred

Posted by JPiper on March 09, 2000 at 19:42:25:


I’m no expert with city hall…for good reason…I’m EAGER to keep a low profile. If I recollect your original post you had spread some false rumors concerning the use of your building. At that time I wondered what you hoped to accomplish…but it sounds like you got what you wanted…ATTENTION.

It sounds like you’ve already violated certain rules concerning renovation in your area…you didn’t get permits. The fact that your neighbors didn’t either doesn’t make one bit of difference. The city is unlikely to be able to catch everyone who violates the rules…the point is that they did catch you.

Now it appears that you violated a stop work order…entitling you to a fine. I don’t see what your defense is to not getting permits, and then not stopping work. Do you?

Unless you’ve got mighty deep pockets, my suggestion would be that you remedy this situation with the city as quickly and quietly as possible…if that’s still possible. Talk about your constitutional rights really isn’t going to help your pocket book at all.


Can you fight City Hall? - Posted by Fred

Posted by Fred on March 09, 2000 at 18:39:16:

I wrote a while back about a commercial property my wife and I purchased. I put newspaper over the windows, so nosey neighbors wouldn’t be looking in while I worked. We basically put a dividing wall in to separate the front 15 feet from the rear of the building. The building is huge and I have an 8 month old son, so I wanted to create an area where I could heat the room to accomodate him and not have to heat the entire building. I’ve been contacted by the city to get a work permit to continue working in the building. It seems that in the last 3 years, our mayor has decided to create a bunch of laws regarding doing renovations to ones property…inside and out. He’s trying to get a law passed now where you need to hire an architect to do any renovation. By the time I got the notice, I had finished doing the renovations, so I never applied for a permit. I’ve been hauling stuff from a storage building into the building and so they put a ‘stop work’ order notice on the building. Today, I had a friend do some painting in a second floor room which I planned on using for an office, and an inspector from the city sees him from across the street and takes pictures of him painting. He then tries to find me to give me a citation for violating the work order. He attempts to gain access to my building by going to the adjoining property owner’s building to see if he will allow him to go through a side door that connects the two buildings (both buildings were formerly owned by the other owner and there was a doorway between them.) The other property owner said he didn’t feel like it was the right of the inspector to trespass without my knowledge, so he wouldn’t let him in
(I have steel strapping across the door, so he couldn’t get in if he wanted to). Two properties on either side of me did renovations in the past 6 months and neither had permits. I feel like I’m being harassed and by him trying to gain entry into my property is a violation of my constitutional right to privacy. The inspector finally tracked me down at my home and gave me a citation for $500 for zoning violations and violating a stop work order. My question is: What would you do. Fight it. Pay it. Or Sue?

Re: Can you fight City Hall? - Posted by JD

Posted by JD on March 10, 2000 at 09:08:54:

I would just pay the fine, but… Most communites adopt the Uniform Building Code as their primary Building code enforcement standard. The UBC gives broad inspection rights to inspectors, but it does not allow the inspectors to enter a property without the permission of the owner or a court order. If you were really motivated you could argue that the inspector’s effort to enter your building without your permission is proof that the inspector was not acting in good faith and that a fine levied in bad faith is not enforecable. I do not know if that would relieve you of the fine, but it would certainly irritate the Building Dept.

Principle vs. Principal - Posted by ray@lcorn

Posted by ray@lcorn on March 09, 2000 at 23:20:53:


One is a concept, as in “rights”. The other is cash, as in fines, legal fees and lost opportunities.

You’ll have to decide which is more important to you.