Last week, I looked at the lessons that may be draw from the Bubba the Pig story, also known as “The Great Pig Fiasco.”
This week, I’ll look at the unresolved issues that need to be addressed once Seal Beach closes the book on the Bubba the Pig story.
• If it takes three years to enforce a city code—or amend a city code so that it can be enforced—Seal Beach needs to look at resolving neighborhood conflicts more quickly. Because code issues are neighborhood conflicts.
Maybe the staff needs to automatically kick a protracted enforcement issue up to the city manager’s office so the city manager can determine whether code enforcement, a vendor or the language of the city code is not working as they should. The question is, how long does the issue have to drag on before such a review takes place? The courts tend to be sluggish, so maybe 18 months should be the point at which someone says, “Why is this taking so long?”
• Is the Long Beach Animal Care Services agency providing Seal Beach with effective animal control service? If so, how might that service be improved? If not—what alternatives are available within our budget?
• Did the city officials allow “mob rule” to influence their actions?
While I could have gone happily to my grave without hearing a chorus of “Don’t Send Bubba to Hog Heaven” at a council meeting, the fact remains that in our society the public has a right to express their views and government has an obligation to shut up and listen. Rule of law is important, but the public has got to have the right to petition the government to reconsider laws or we will be enslaved by the standards of centuries long past and the decisions of government officials whose bones have long ago turned to dust. If we have to endure a certain amount of absurdity—well, eternal silliness, like vigilance, is apparently part of the price of liberty.
And for those who feel the rule of law was overwhelmed by the “mob,” I must respectfully point out that one of our laws—found in our Bill of Rights—allows citizens to protest government actions. So instead of criticizing the other side for being a “mob,” try making your case instead.
Having said that, is there a way to promote discourse, even protest, without promoting emotionalism?
• Councilwoman Ellery Deaton said the city received three complaints about Bubba. Fair enough. But the fact remains that except for the barking dog ordinance, only a single complaint is enough to trigger city code enforcement. One complaint triggered the beach bench controversy. I once read a police log in which an individual complained about a man playing his guitar at 3 p.m. (Had it been a.m., the caller would have had my sympathy.) A city employee once told me about a woman who complained about the smell of the food her neighbors cooked. Shall we amend the Zoning Code to restrict what people cook in their kitchens? I personally despise hedges—should Seal Beach outlaw those things because I hate them?
The barking dog ordinance requires complaints from three separate individuals. Should Seal Beach consider adding the three-complaint requirement to other ordinances?
Personally, I think so—because the only thing worse than one-man rule or mob-rule would be 25,000 individuals taking turns being one-person dictators over the rest of us. And the alternative is not only allowing the city code to become a tool—or the cause of—a neighborhood dispute, but possibly allowing the city code to become the tool of a stalker.