Statement by Supervisor Kelly Long on Why Appeals of Certain Permits will Not be Allowed

As members of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, we are often asked to consider permit applications for a wide range of things. Permits that require board approval or “discretionary” permits, can be appealed for reconsideration. The right to file these appeals is a critical part of the process and something I fully support as an appropriate, agreed upon check and balance within the system.

Within the discretionary permit approvals there are “ministerial” permits that are granted based upon determinations that the proposed project complies with standards laid out in the original approval. These determinations are arrived at objectively, involve little or no personal judgment, and are issued by planning as an “over the counter” approval. It is this way by design.

Over a 7 year period, 42 appeals filed, none…zero, have been upheld. County Planning alone has absorbed more than $748,000 in costs due to discretionary permit approvals there are “ministerial” permits. This cost is paid by Ventura County taxpayers and doesn’t include costs associated with work from other agencies such as the Agricultural Commissioners office, Air Pollution Control District, Fire Protection District, Public Works, County Counsel and others.

County Counsel has repeatedly explained to Board Members that ministerial approvals cannot legally be denied if the conditions of approval are determined to have been met. Upholding appeals in these circumstances could open the county up to lawsuits or, at a minimum, take away any certainty for those who have chosen to navigate the very long and difficult process of getting a conditional use permit or any other discretionary permit.

We have a process for appeals that I wholeheartedly support. However, seeing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent, countless hours of staff time diverted and the important, regular business of county agencies shelved to accommodate a process with questionable merit warrants consideration of item #43 on our Tuesday, 4/10 Board of Supervisor agenda.
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