Guilty until proven innocent? | Letters
October 31, 2012 · Updated 4:42 PM
It’s a strange world.
Now let’s see: it costs $280 to file an appeal to the Washington State Court of Appeals, $450 to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and $300 to the United States Supreme Court.
I was reminded of this at a recent community candidate forum when candidates were asked if they supported the $2,300 fee. Immediately, Lovel Pratt and Howie Rosenfeld stated they were against it. That’s strange, though, given that on Dec. 7, 2010, both these council members voted for passage of ordinance No. 34-2010, setting this fee.
Had they voted against this fee, I’d have been spared the recent experience of having to scrape together $2,300 to begin the costly defense process against a bogus land-use violation complaint.
Luckily, after an additional $500 in attorney fees and considerable effort and time, the resulting appeal proved that I was legitimately using my property for a home-based business. When I didn’t receive my fee back as a result of being found innocent of any violation, it took my phone call to the county to ascertain that they needed seven to 10 days to process it.
Not everyone can put his/her hands on this amount of money quickly. There’s also the fear that if one moves forward with an appeal and it fails, the $2,300 will be lost as well. This makes anyone have second thoughts about proceeding with an appeal. I sure found it intimidating.
This experience makes me wonder how council members Pratt and Rosenfeld could have voted for such an ordinance and then when election time comes around, disavow the very same practice?
Maybe it’s time to elect council members who aren’t so eager to set high fees and then change their positions at election time.
Lisa Moretti, San Juan Island