Whether Ray Fajardo should have been able to erect an ornamental black fence in his front yard is one thing. Of course he should, unless subdivision covenants restrict it. It’s his property. How can government say otherwise without holding a citizen referendum?
But that’s not the point in a dispute that has rocked Fajardo’s Northwest Albany neighborhood. The meltdown isn’t simply about government’s restrictions on property rights, rather, as Fajardo’s next-door neighbor poignantly told the City Commission last week, it’s about government failing miserably at its job – and then not arrogantly apologizing for it.
Here’s how it got started: Another high-priced city consultant (who was illegally procured without competitive bids) and a high-priced planning director (who like most at city hall has never done the job before) drafted a law that outlawed chain-link fences but allowed chicken wire and cattle gates in front yards.
And now, because Fajardo is angry at his inept government and his neighbors for reporting his illegal black chain-link fence to the Big Brother, Fajardo has erected a hodgepodge of every kind of fence imaginable.
It’s an unsightly mess – but it is legal, accordingly to the city’s expensively produced law. (Fajardo, by the way, is a truck driver; he is not the identically named lawyer in town.)
When the issue came to a head before the City Commission last week, an apology by those responsible was clearly in order. But no; this is Albany. Instead, Fajardo was gang-banged by the very culprits at the top of the food chain responsible for the mess: City Manager Alfred Lott, who could barely control his temper enough to make one of his retaliatory cut-downs of Fajardo, and Mayor Willie Adams, who shamefully mocked Fajardo with every breath.
The hot-dog bullying by Lott and Adams was disgusting; what’s worse, though, is that the rest of the City Commission – again, those who passed the law allowing Fajardo’s shenanigans to take place — allowed it.
By Kevin Hogencamp