Former Davis City Councilmember and attorney Michael Harrington has been battling the city and his neighbor, challenging the city’s approval of a Conditional Use Permit for Catherine LeBlanc, to allow her to operate her psychotherapy office on 7th Street in Davis.
The tentative ruling notes that Mr. Harrington, the petitioner, “fails to demonstrate that respondents acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or without any evidentiary basis.” Judge Tim Fall, however, adds that “the Court interprets Davis Municipal Code section 40.25.080(a) to prohibit all off-street parking within the front yard setback line. Accordingly, the parking space previously located therein may not be used for parking.”
Mr. Harrington has challenged the CUP, citing the lack of an accessible parking space at the office of Catherine LeBlanc in her effort to operate her psychotherapy office on 7th Street. The office would handle up to 35 individuals a day in a residential neighborhood and would operate up to 11 hours a day.
Mr. Harrington “challenges the City’s approval of the CUP on the grounds that the Project fails to meet the off-street parking requirements as all of the required off-street parking will not be within the front setback line. Petitioner also challenges the City’s determination to exempt Ms. LeBlanc from the requirement to provide accessible parking.”
The City believes that “the on-site parking requirements for the conditionally permitted professional office use at 717 7th Street have been met because the City did not require an accessible parking space.”
The city and Ms. Leblanc’s attorney have responded that Mr. Harrington “pursues this writ proceeding based upon a strained and incomplete statutory construction and a selective recitation of the facts found within the administrative record. The record contains substantial competent evidence and analysis in support of the City’s interpretations and decisions.”
In an email acquired by the Vanguard dated October 20 from Michael Harrington to Dan Wolk, Mr. Harrington writes, “I am writing to my elected official. We are very confident of winning the case in December. A City Council, as powerful as it is in many local matters, simply cannot waive federal and state handicapped access law. However, a win would merely result in LeBlanc being forced to leave the premises and set up shop somewhere else on short notice.”
Mr. Harrington continues, “I have a proposal that I believe might result in a win-win for all concerned, including the old neighborhoods, but only via the court-ordered confidential mediation process. The result would be a binding deal, approved by the parties and the Court.”
“The applicant has zero authority to settle anything, as the CUP is a creature of city law and under the sole authority of the CC,” he adds. “Furthermore, I believe she is being forced to pay the city’s expenses in this case, yet the City will not attend a mediation. I don’t think this is fair on the applicant.”
As a tentative ruling, if there is no hearing requested, the ruling would be effective immediately. However, the Vanguard has been informed that the case will be heard today at 9 am in front of Judge Fall. If Judge Fall sticks with his tentative ruling, Mr. Harrington would have the recourse to take the matter to the Third District Court of Appeals.
—David M. Greenwald reporting