Friday, February 27, 2009

Sun Post Story and Council Meeting Agenda Item

Wow! This is the third media exposure this week regarding my case. Cheryl Winkelman did a wonderful job putting the dry facts of my report together with the personal impacts of such a horrible nuisance continuously inflicted by my insensate neighbors.

Page 7

Page 8

I took a few minutes to carefully read Cheryl's article after I picked up several copies of the paper from the Sun Post office downtown. Then I stopped by City Hall to drop one copy off and to review the meeting binder made available to the public in the City Clerk's office.

My request at the February 17th meeting asked that my - intact - report be part of the next meeting's binders. Ms. Tilton did ask the council members to bring back their copies of the report for that purpose, but the public binder in her office did not have my report. My intent is to have the research report become part of the public record.

The Council meeting agenda item reads, "Receive report on complaints filed by Richard Behling regarding property at 810 Fishback Road, review the actions taken by various City departments and consider providing direction to staff as appropriate." Nowhere is my report mentioned. The only "report" backing up the agenda item is Police Chief Bricker's rehash of his December 3rd "closure" letter, with a few additions. I guess that's OK, because it demonstrates publicly to the Council just how little City Staff accomplished over the year - hampered as they were by the unverified misconception they were dealing with an allegedly GRANDFATHERED business.

My best approach is merely to say, "Where the Chief's report leaves off (Dec 3), my report begins (researched in Dec and Jan.)" That cuts off the contentious piecemealing and unproductive wheelspinning of the past. That refocuses everyone's attention back on the proofs of the fraudulent grandfathering claim made by Allen & Brassey. No emotional rancor - just calm logic as I lead them, step by step, through their re-education of common law and municipal code.

Despite the City's Spin Doctor's posturing and meally-mouthing, I believe everything is now in place for the "showdown" at City Hall predicted by the press.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

From Pencil to Print to Digital to Television... whew!

What a week! Never in my wildest dreams did I think this story would be broadcast to the entire Sacramento/Stockton television market area, which includes Manteca, even reaching coworkers in Modesto. Talk about unanticipated results from informing the local press…

The Friday after City Council meeting last week, I got a call from the Sun Post newspaper to schedule an interview this last Monday. The weekly paper publishes tomorrow (Friday). This is exactly what I hoped for – that I could get my case noticed by the press.

* * * * *

But, then… the news story below appeared on the Manteca Bulletin website late Monday night, also a direct result of my presentation to City Council of my research report. Dennis did a great job of laying out the case for his readers.

Ice machine fight escalating: Fed up neighbor asks for council intervention

By Dennis WyattManaging Editordwyatt@mantecabulletin.com209-249-3532
POSTED Feb. 23, 2009 1:22 a.m.

* * * * *

The next day, on Tuesday, Channel 13’s local news producer picked up the story from the Manteca Bulletin website and sent out Andrea, and Carl her cameraman, to do a 2-minute spot for the 10 o’clock news on Wednesday night. (That’s the link below.) They had already been to the police department, had already tried to speak with Allen or Brassey (but were declined – more gently than was the Sun Post reporter – by Corky), and were waiting for me when I arrived home from work.

Manteca Neighbors In Ice Fight
CBS Channel 13
Feb 26, 2009 7:09 am US/Pacific

* * * *

What a night... What a week, so far...


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mugging for the Sun Post

"Face time" is a good thing.

I guess that's what I've been doing at Manteca City Council meetings since last March - getting them used to my extraordinarily handsome visage. Really, the purpose was so the recipients of my many letters and emails would know who the sender was. Of course, the delivery of the 82-page illustrated "Valentines" helped somewhat.

Just enough visibility so the Sun Post newspaper took notice of these City Hall shenanigans and sent a reporter, Cheryl Winkelman, and photographer, Ike Dodson, to my home for an interview and mug shots. (I should have paid more attention to how high up the yard light pole Ike climbed for the panoramic aerial shots.) A brief story is likely to appear in this Friday's edition (2/27/09) about my year-long campaign to obtain REAL information on TLC Catering and the FALSE foundation of it's presence on the neighboring property. Even a small, pictureless article would go a looong way toward lending me some credibility.

Also of great benefit would be a reporting of Lynda Allen's intimidation tactics in refusing to cooperate with Cheryl on the story. Yesterday - with a "heads up" warning from me - Cheryl and Ike suffered the same fate as Ben Marrone, also of the Sun Post, last July 2008. Little Ms. Allen verbally attacked them with threats of police calls and the coarsest swearing. (I really, really, really wanted to call her bluff and dial the police number for her to make the call.) Her small, yappy dog, Rufus, was at her feet, no doubt being trained by soaking up the actions and personality of his owner.

The ferocity of her verbal assault has twice driven the press off her driveway in under a minute. It was the identical one-way "communication style" this not-so-nice neighbor used on me two times before. In February 2008 it was just the two of us; the set-to in March 2008 took place in front of a Manteca police officer. Four times in one year Ms. Allen has been given the opportunity to make a good impression on people who knew nothing about her business. So much for telling her side of this unbelievable story. And forget any "face time" for her... I'm sure Ike would not want to break his camera for that mug shot.


Friday, February 20, 2009

A Few Key Documents From the Report

{Click on the highlighted links for the larger versions}

First up, the County Recorder's filing showing the annexation finalizing in December 1986.

Next is the deed where the Mego's, still living at 810 Fishback in April 1987, purchased a new home on the other side of Manteca. After this purchase they would have put up the property for sale.

This second deed is when the Mego's sold the property to Lynda Allen & Theresa Brassey in November 1987.

Sixteen months later is the Fictitious Business Name published notice from March 1989, where in Allen & Brassey lied about their principal place of business.

Lastly, the hand-redrawn chart of the business operation of TLC Catering from the new beginning in Manteca through 2008 (current.) Most of this data came from the Health Department permits the two women relied on so heavily.

Enjoyable, no?


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ice Cooled Neighbors

I needed a photo to prove the ice machine is an integral part of TLC Catering’s business, so I took this pic of the owner pouring ice from a plastic pail, from the wheelbarrow which transports the ice from the icemaker to the truck. Even IF I wanted to, I could not have staged a better photo than this hilarious shot (larger version here).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Grandfather of All Reports

Here we go... Settle in for a nice story.

Allen & Brassey: TLC on Fishback Street

Documented Narrative

In 1969, Dale & Georgia Mae Grubb purchased 8.78 acres at 18590 S. Fishback Road, two blocks south of Manteca city limits, from the Marshall’s and the Montgomery’s.[A] As is sometimes the case, seven years later one set of older parents (dad, 81; mom, 76) came to live with them, so they put a mobile home on the property.[B] The County's Planning Department issued Dale Grubb a mobile home permit in April 1976,[C] and the dwelling was numbered as 18594 S. Fishback[D]. This temporary permit required two annual signoffs: a declaration of continued necessity and current California DMV registration. The last entries on the permit were in 1981. The Grubbs sold their 8.41 acres in 1983 (they earlier deeded .37 acre to Sandra Daniel in August 1976.) It is obvious the permitted use of the mobile home was discontinued, but it was never removed from the property as the permit required.

Elsewhere in San Joaquin County, somewhere between Manteca and Tracy, Lynda Allen and Theresa Brassey ran some kind of catering truck or vending machine business. One man remembers these two women selling foodstuffs from a small vending truck at his employer’s place in Tracy (West Star, a sheet metal shop) and also servicing stationary vending machines. A second man guesses that one of their customers was the Tracy Defense Depot, based on a later Fictitious Business Name filing. A third man remembers these women parking their trucks, with the TLC Catering “brand,” on a property on Airport Way in unincorporated Manteca and he did mechanical work on the trucks at his shop on Wetmore Street. His memory of them is clear because they always paid his bills late.

Lewis & Anne Mego were employed at the Livermore National Laboratory, he as a nuclear physicist, she as an administrative assistant. Moving from the Bay Area, they purchased the Fishback property from Dale & Georgia Grubb, recording the deed in November 1983.[E] What they did with Grubb’s abandoned mobile home is certain in two respects: 1) they did not remove it from the property, and 2) they did not operate a catering truck business from it. The couple lived quietly on Fishback Road while governmental agencies went about the task of helping Brocchini annex his land - and many other people's property - into Manteca city limits. Property holders were assessed a per-acre fee to pay the costs for the privilege of annexation.[F]

The Manteca City Council adopted a resolution during their October 27, 1986 meeting in order to apply for the annexation of the Pacific Road-Brocchini area, including the east side of Fishback Road.[G] San Joaquin County's Local Agency Formation Commission gave final approval to the project on December 17, 1986,[H] which date grants “grandfather” protection to previously lawfully established land uses.

An elementary school was scheduled to be built right behind the Mego's property (later the plan changed to Sierra High School) and in March 1987 the Mego's deeded all but one-half acre to Manteca Unified School District.[I] Grubb’s abandoned mobile home had to be moved about 100 feet west to remain within the Mego's new rear property line. Since one of the couple had reached that magic age where they could move into a gated retirement community, in April 1987 Lewis & Anne Mego purchased a new home from Homes by Pann,[J] moved onto Tiffany Walk in Manteca, and put the Fishback property on the market. The Mego’s had no business use of the property that could grandfather.[K] The noncompliant mobile home could not be grandfathered - only ignored by unaware owners and dismissed by irresponsible County Planning and County Building employees.[L]

This abandoned mobile home became a textbook case of an “attractive nuisance,” utterly irresistible to the pair of Allen & Brassey. They were drawn to the Mego’s Fishback property because of the affordable size and private location of the parcel and, undoubtedly, because Dale Grubb’s mobile home was still illegally on the property. (Hmmm, a quiet, backwater lot with an existing trailer to store our catering supplies and inventory - what a great place to set up shop! But the price the sellers want… hmmm... how can we swing that?)

On November 10, 1987 - eleven months after the annexation to Manteca was finalized - the property was purchased by Allen & Brassey. The deed was recorded along with a deed of trust for the promissory note payable to the Mego’s.[M], [N] With the recording of the deed, unsuspecting Manteca and unfortunate neighbors became hosts to a couple of parasitic entrepreneurs. Allen & Brassey immediately moved their business assets and operations onto the property from wherever they were previously based, surely ecstatic they no longer had to pay a business expense (rent) to house the trucks. These women played fast and loose with the rules, evaded regulations of any kind (they still do), and proceeded to operate their existing, unregistered business at their new location for the next sixteen months without obtaining a Home Occupation permit or its earlier counterpart. (See the TLC Catering Chart.)

Manteca renumbered the old county addresses to new city addresses. The main house that was 18590 became 810 Fishback,[O] and the unlawful mobile home at 18954 became 812 Fishback.[P]

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Please PAUSE reading here.

The case of unlawful use of residential property has been made. Let Allen & Brassey choose - relocate their business to a commercial zone, or, go out of business. Either way, they must remove all current and abandoned business assets and cease all business operations.

If you proceed, please understand that what follows does not alter the facts outlined above. The remainder of this narrative is a tragically comic documentary of the confused nonsense displayed by city and county personnel in dealing with the situation. Despite its entertainment value, the purpose of the following is to ensure the complete rehabilitation of 810 Fishback Street to its residential-only status by detailing all the "arms and legs" of this cancerous catering company that is to be removed from the property.

RESUME reading . . .
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Theresa Brassey, Lynda Allen (and a woman called Corky) finally recorded TLC Catering as a fictitious business name on March 15, 1989, the only such filing by them in the County Recorder’s Grantor/Grantee Index.[Q] The first publication of the notice appeared in the Manteca Bulletin on March 18, 1989[R], and has two other fictitious items besides the name: the business start date was listed as March 1, 1989, and the business address was listed as 27500 Chrisman Rd in Tracy. This would place their business in unincorporated County of San Joaquin, but that address does not exist in the County's current Graphical Information System, District Viewer.[S] All other similar addresses along the east side of that stretch of county road belong to the Tracy Defense Depot - likely a customer, maybe their best customer - but not TLC Catering’s business address. The most important reason the two scofflaws listed a county address was to evade Manteca’s requirements for a business license and a land use permit (precursor to a Home Occupation permit.)

Then the mobile gourmets really got busy. San Joaquin County, Environmental Health Department (EHD) records show TLC Catering swapping trucks and trading license plate numbers on existing Health Permits re-issued in 1989. With money obtained from who-knows-where, they purchased three large Mobile Food Preparation Units (MFPU’s), including at least one new 1989 Chevy.[T] These monstrosities are kitchens on wheels, each as large as a sizable motor home. Unfortunately, the perishable foods are ice-cooled rather than refrigerated.

Allen & Brassey did not have a Commissary Permit from EHD. This is shown in a March 7, 1991 letter from TLC Catering to EHD, which listed the four external commissaries utilized by the business at that time.[U] All of the commissaries listed were away from the property, the main one being a Save Mart supermarket in Tracy. Brassey failed to mention any utilization of their residential property as a commissary. Current correspondence from EHD indicates these “law-abiding citizens” did not move their trucks onto the property prior to acquiring the private commissary.[V] (That, however, only strengthens the case of illegal enlargement after warning.)

Both the County of San Joaquin and the City of Manteca adopted ordinances in 1992 establishing a special class of land use permits, known as Home Occupation Permits. It is for people who operate all, or part, of their approved business from their homes in residential zones. The wording of Manteca’s Code, Section 17.61.030, defines the concept of “grandfathering” for preexisting nonresidential uses:

“Nonconforming use” means any use of land or property that was lawfully established and in compliance with all applicable ordinances and laws at the time the ordinance… became effective, but which… is a use not listed as permitted,… or [is] subject to permit in the zone in which it is located. (emphasis added.)

An element common to all grandfathering provisions is a restriction on enlarging or expanding the protected use. Allen & Brassey added a fourth truck to the TLC Catering fleet on August 5, 1992.[W] It was a smaller Limited Food Prep truck, also a 1989 Chevy. The application listed Bonnie Jean Carson of Lathrop as the driver and California Commissary at 2440 Airport Way in Stockton as the commissary.

Why bring up grandfathering in relation to the 1992 Home Occupation ordinance when it has already been proved that operating and expanding TLC Catering on the property was an unlawful land use from the moment Allen & Brassey moved in five years earlier? The top four reasons are: #4) The recently added fourth truck was crowding the half-acre lot; #3) The new ordinance prohibited the business from having non-resident, non-family employees; #2) These employees were parking their cars on the street in front of neighbors’ houses, and the neighbors complained; and, the most important reason, #1) Without properly verifying the property purchase date and any County Planning permits, code enforcement investigators believed Allen & Brassey’s fraudulent claim that the property’s use was lawfully established. After evading City regulation for five years by falsely listing a county address in their public filing of fictitious business name, these two shysters dodged another bullet by constant repetition of their lie about the business being grandfathered. Their constant chant, “We have operated our business on the property ever since we moved in,” is entirely true – except they moved in after annexation. The public documents show that Allen & Brassey were never on the property before December 1986 and never had a Manteca permit to use this property for business purposes before the 1992 ordinance - but that never stopped them from promoting this falsehood.

These women were not asked the question, When did you move onto the property? Any observant code enforcement officer who bothered to verify their story could have ended this travesty many years ago. (Lest any current pots start calling the former kettles black, the identical “softball Q&A” took place just last April with the present code enforcement officers.[X] ) In the absence of any proactive code enforcement, Manteca badly bungled its first citizen-complaint-driven opportunity to enforce zoning law compliance by these two charlatans. Even worse, in an error of mind-boggling proportions, Manteca handed these women the KEYS TO THE CITY in a June 1993 letter saying they had “legal, nonconforming” status.[Y] They must have been euphoric! Untouchable goddesses! They had successfully snuffed their nosy neighbors and hornswoggled those pestilent Manteca regulators! "Life is good!" Allen was heard cackling.

(Note: The letter is not a permit and only legally established uses can be grandfathered.)

Yet the TLC Life just kept getting better! Emboldened by Manteca's emasculation, three months later Allen & Brassey assumed home occupation (land use) permission from Health Department (food sanitation) permits and made an application payment to EHD to establish and operate a private commissary, naming their property at 810 Fishback Street as the location for inspections.[Z] (The current Manteca code enforcement officer opined that Allen & Brassey were merely attempting to “legalize” what they had been doing “since they moved in.” When did they move in? Sorry, but they still need a land use permit.) The nine months following September 1993, was likely the period when a walk-in freezer and a refrigerated shipping container were hauled onto the property, refrigerators and freezers were plugged in everywhere, lights and floodlights strung up, and an ancient, noisy icemaker was improperly installed. The illegal mobile home, that longstanding error, was swallowed up in the larger commissary operation, pieces of which were scattered all around the property. The following June, the Health Department plan checks were done and in July 1994, EHD issued a Commissary Permit to the owners of TLC Catering. Again assuming nonexistent permissions, Allen & Brassey began taking commercial deliveries to their property, something expressly prohibited for home occupations. They were now set with four catering trucks, a fully equipped private commissary, and commercial vendors whose big trucks delivered supplies and services to their doorstep... they were unstoppable.

===== Current note regarding commercial deliveries =====

Despite poor, little Lynda Allen telling code enforcement on 11/17/08 that she "now buys supplies on a nearly daily basis from Costco,"[AA] she failed to mention that TLC Catering is still on the weekly delivery routes of three large food vendors. For twelve years these delivery trucks made stops at 812 Fishback to sell products to the commissary for the four catering trucks in use; then three more years for just two catering trucks; now only one. To service the trucks and commissary:

· The Crystal Dairy[BB] (now owned by Foster Farms) refrigerated truck arrives - brakes squealing - every Monday morning at 3:00 a.m.

· The Hostess Cakes[CC] (Interstate Bakeries Corp.) truck delivers weekly, usually on a Friday, arriving between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.

· Oroweat[DD] (Bimbo Bakeries USA) makes an unattended delivery around 12:00 noon each Monday, where the Oroweat driver opens the security gate and drives onto the property.

· A very special vendor, Darling International Inc.,[EE] the nation's largest recycler of inedible animal by‑products, makes time in its Manteca route schedule for an as-needed pickup of TLC Catering’s waste cooking grease, which is stored in barrels on-site until pickup. (Dairy operators also use this vendor for the hauling away of "downer" cows.) A very large pumper truck has been observed twice, months ago at 10:45 p.m. and more recently at 3:00 a.m., for a very noisy forty-five minute vacuum collection process.

===== End current note =====

So impervious were they to lawful regulation that Allen & Brassey failed to re-file Fictitious Business Name (FBN) statements as required every five years. By law they should have re-filed in 1994, 1999, 2004, and 2009. Whether TLC Catering is a legal business or not; whether they hold a valid Home Occupation Permit or not; the State of California requires every person doing business for profit, under a name other than his or her own, to file a Fictitious Business Name statement and re-file every five years thereafter.[FF] If any of the information changes (such as the business' principal address), then re-publishing the notice in a newspaper must also occur. One legal consequence of failure to file current FBN statements is that any legal action, as plaintiff or defendant, cannot be maintained under that business name in court.

The City of Manteca took Allen & Brassey (or was it TLC Catering?) to Small Claims court in June 1996 over unpaid garbage bills for both 810 & 812 Fishback.[GG] No FBN was entered on the initial court filing. Four years later, in August 2000, the judge ordered the debt erased and ordered the City to exempt (the owners? the business? the address?) from the city’s garbage collection program. What defense was offered? What was the basis for the exemption? The answers are most likely buried in papers somewhere in Manteca's City Attorney's office. One guess is that Allen & Brassey put up their well-worn “legally grandfathered business” defense against the City for past and future fees. (Oh, the irony! Manteca must have forgotten the KEYS TO THE CITY letter they gave to these fighting hens. On the other hand, Allen & Brassey should have been barred from a TLC Catering defense in the absence of a current Fictitious Business Name statement.)

One costly bottleneck still existed for TLC Catering / Allen & Brassey. Their PG&E bill must have been astronomical because, on top of their household and water well pump usage, they were also running all the business appliances: standard refrigerators and freezers, industrial walk-in refrigerators and freezers, an inefficient outdoor icemaker, floodlights and strings of yard lights, besides the hot water heater for the mobile home/commissary and plugging in the parked MFPU's. In April 2004, they had their next door neighbors, Roger & Flora Stewart of 786 Fishback, obtain a Manteca building permit for Power Independence of Stockton to put up seven massive solar panel arrays and install the wiring and 10,000-watt control system to handle all these electrical needs.[HH] Of course, the installation was on 810 Fishback - not as permitted for 786 Fishback - so just how the City and the Stewarts were conned by these con artists is a mystery. Final inspection took place in September 2004.

TLC Catering gave up two EHD catering truck permits after 2003 and another permit after 2006. One truck and some commissary equipment (the illegal mobile home, standard refrigerators and freezers, and, most regrettably, the noisy icemaker) continue in operation. Unused business vehicles, large walk-ins, and other equipment encumber the property[II], like so much flotsam and jetsam, mixed in with other vehicles and a restaurant business-specific enclosure or “corral” for waste grease barrels. Unpermitted and otherwise shoddily built covered patios are attached to the illegal mobile home and the legal outbuilding. (Falling into that last category is the “sound-enhancing” plywood box around the icemaker, designed by an unemployed truck driver and constructed by him as a paid but undeclared employee.) Because Allen & Brassey evaded city refuse pickup for yet unknown reasons, commingled household and business trash piles high in an open pickup until hauled off to the county transfer station.[JJ]

[A] Grantor/Grantee Index, Deed to Grubb, Recorder’s Document # BK3321PG143, dated July 22, 1969.

[B] Mobile home, DMV license plate # FQ1259.

[C] San Joaquin County, Mobile Home Permit, April 1, 1976. Two pages.

[D] City of Manteca, Engineering Department, Engineering Grid # 24 D.

[E] Deed to Mego, Recorder’s Document # 83084852, dated November 25, 1983. Three pages.

[F] Revised Annexation Proposal, Memorandum of January 16, 1985. Four pages.

[G] City Council Minutes, 10/27/1986, Resolution R7838 adopted. Three pages.

[H] LAFCO Certificate of Completion, Recorder’s Document # 86105713, dated December 17, 1986. Seven pages, including other material.

[I] Grantor/Grantee Index, Deed to Manteca Unified School District, Recorder’s Document # 87025020, dated March 23, 1987. Two pages.

[J] Deed to Mego, Recorder’s Document # 87028587, dated April 2, 1987. Two pages.

[K] Email from Crosby, County Planning Department, dated August 14, 2008.

[L] Code enforcement case notes, CE-08-753, 11/20/2008, 9:01 a.m., with Rick Matuska.

[M] Deed to Allen & Brassey, Recorder’s Document # 87103627, dated November 10, 1987. Three pages.

[N] Deed of Trust to Mego, Recorder’s Document # 87103628, dated November 10, 1987. Three pages.

[O] Letter from Hulsey, City Engineering, dated December 30, 1986
[P] Letter from Hulsey, City Engineering, dated January 7, 1987. Two pages, incl. picture.

[Q] Grantor/Grantee Index, Fictitious Business Name, Recorder’s Document # 98000597, dated March 15, 1989.

[R] Manteca Bulletin, March 18, 1989, Page B-4, Public Notice.

[S] Screen prints from San Joaquin County District Viewer for Chrisman Road in Tracy, California. Two pages.

[T] Code enforcement case notes, CE-08-752, Vehicle Information, License # 4A09350.

[U] Letter from TLC Catering (Theresa Brassey), dated March 7, 1991, to EHD.

[V] Email from Jeff Carruesco, EHD Program Director, dated 1/27/09.

[W] EHD Application for a new food vending truck, dated 8/5/92.

[X] Code enforcement case notes # CE-08-182, 4/17/08.

[Y] Letter from Cantu, Manteca Planning Department, dated June 29, 1993.

[Z] EHD Account Statement, dated 08/15/94. Commissary application payment posted 09/17/93; Commissary permit posted 07/13/94.

[AA] Case notes, CE-08-753, 11/17/08, 2:01 p.m.

[BB] Picture of Crystal truck, and information from Foster Farms Dairy website. Three pages.

[CC] Information from Interstate Bakeries Corporation website. Two pages.

[DD] Picture of Oroweat truck, and information from Bimbo Bakeries USA website. Two pages.

[EE] Information from Darling International Inc. website. Two pages.

[FF] Fictitious Business Name Statement form and instructions. Two pages.

[GG] Small Claims Court register page for Case # MS-34246, filed June 21, 1996. Two pages.

[HH] Manteca building permit, dated April 2004. Two pages.

[II] Annotated pictures of TLC Catering’s operations yard. Two pages.

[JJ] Picture of Manteca’s refuse pickup “opt-out” program for unlawful businesses.

Delivering the Report to the Manteca City Council

HUGE step forward! What a night! After months of research, writing, and preparation, last night I delivered "Valentines" to fifteen of my closest friends at City Hall during the City Council meeting.

While I read the two-and-one-half minute Introduction, the City Clerk handed out the pound-and-a-half books. The Introduction [see last post] is included in the book so all recipients can reread it at their leisure. The city personnel in attendance appeared surprised that someone was so well prepared in advance. Those not receiving books were curious as to its contents, but probably relieved they didn't have to deal with whatever problem it contained.

Just before the meeting closed Councilman John Harris acknowledged my need for resolution to this problem, and Councilman Steve DeBrum, acting as Mayor Pro Tempore, echoed that and offered to sponsor my item onto the city council agenda on March 3rd.

Today, I confirmed with the City Clerk that my item is indeed on the draft agenda. "Draft agenda" means the mayor and councilmen have the opportunity to "play politics" before the agenda is finalized mid-next week. So it's still a fluid situation until the agenda is published to the public.

Anyway, here is the Executive Summary of my report:

Allen & Brassey: TLC on Fishback Street

Executive Summary

The purposes of this research document are:

First, to establish from public records (apparently for the first time) the timeline of ownership and prior uses of the property at 810 Fishback Street;

Second, to document the unlawful commencement, enlargement, and continued operation of TLC Catering as an unpermitted, nonresidential use;

Third, to prevent this unlawful use from attaching to the land because of the major error classifying the property’s business use as “legal but nonconforming;” and,

Fourth, to ensure the comprehensive and complete rehabilitation of 810 Fishback Street to its residential-only status.

Research conducted in December 2008 and January 2009 produced these findings:

►Finding #1: There was no legal nonresidential use attached to the property prior to the December 17, 1986 annexation. (That is, no valid San Joaquin County Planning permits existed for any such use.)

►Finding #2: Allen & Brassey purchased the property eleven months after annexation and, therefore, have no claim to grandfathered property rights for nonresidential use. (The prior owners lived on the property until April 1987. Allen & Brassey’s deed was recorded November 10, 1987.)

►Finding #3: There has never been a valid Home Occupation permit, or its earlier counterpart, issued by the City of Manteca for a business use on that property.

TLC Catering’s use of 810 Fishback was not grandfathered through the December 1986 annexation, was never issued a land use permit by Manteca before 1992 to establish a legal use and, therefore, could not be grandfathered through the 1992 Home Occupation ordinance as a legal but nonconforming use. (That declaration in the June 29, 1993 letter from the City of Manteca was in error, based on unverified information from the lawbreaking owner.)

►Finding #4: Allen & Brassey’s jealously guarded Health Permits are sanitation permits.

Physical addresses supplied to the Health Department facilitate inspections for sanitary conditions; the permits do not grant land use permission in any jurisdiction.


In simplest terms: They never were legal - they are not operating legally now – and, they never can become legal under current ordinances.

The Manteca Municipal Code, Chapter 17.25 Home Occupation Permit, states: “In no case shall a home occupation be conducted without prior issuance of a home occupation permit… [and] all activity relating to the existing home occupation [for which no home occupation permit has previously been issued] must cease until such time a valid home occupation permit is issued…”

My intention has never been that they go out of business, but it is definitely my goal to see that they do not continue unlawfully to operate their business next door to my residential property, thereby allowing the noncompliant use to attach to the land mistakenly classified as a nonconforming use.

In order to effect a comprehensive rehabilitation of this residential property to its business-free state, an awful lot of shit has to be shoveled. With no grandfather protection and no home occupation permit, every piece of currently used (and previously used but now abandoned) business equipment is on the property illegally, and the TLC Catering and Commissary business operation is an illegal land use.

The same jeopardy applies - twice over - to the mobile home abandoned by a former property owner. The unpermitted structure should not be there at all and Allen & Brassey are utilizing it as part of their unlawful business use. It must be removed from the property.


1) The City of Manteca correct and re-issue the letter of June 29, 1993 (see Exhibit Y), reclassifying the business use as noncompliant, and begin the process of conforming it to current ordinances.

2) These property owners have a choice to make – and, it is their choice.

Option #1 - Move all business operations and present and former business equipment to another property in a commercial zone and continue in business.

Option #2 - Go out of business - and remove, through selling, scrapping, or storing off-site, all present and former business equipment from the Fishback property.

Because of the unimaginable length of time they have been operating illegally from the property, a reasonable deadline (no more than a few months) could be given to find a new location and make the move.

The "story" and its references are in the next post.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Peeling the Onion

There is a teaching axiom that goes: Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em; then tell 'em; then tell 'em what you told 'em. This repetitious procedure has worked for my noxious neighbors for twenty-two years - their lies have become ingrained in the psyche of all inhabitants of City Hall. My uphill battle is to expose the foundational lies and yank the rug out from under all of the specious defenses the city uses against me.

After the little set-to with Manteca's Chief of Police last November, where he tried to quarantine me from all City departments with his "closure" letter, I went for ALL the marbles. This weekend I am finalizing my report of the research I've conducted over the last three months and delivering it - all 22 copies - at next Tuesday's Manteca City Council meeting.

The following short introduction of the report will be given during the public comment portion of the meeting, before the report is distributed.

Manteca City Council
Introduction to the Report
Allen & Brassey: TLC on Fishback Street

Manteca City Council Meeting
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Honorable Mayor, Councilwoman, and Councilmen,

Almost a year ago, Rex Osborn responded to my initial complaints regarding my neighbors’ noisy business operations and equipment with, “This is a complex case,” and, “We are trying to please you, and still not interfere with the rights of you neighbor.” For many tedious months since, a resolution to this “complex case” has defied the best minds in Manteca city government… and my ice-cooled neighbors are still infringing on my rights.

Both my neighbors and the City have been my adversaries since I began this quest. Because of senior staff’s prejudice in this case, based on decades-old misinformation and supposition, they have not been cooperative and I had to “audit around” them in order to “peel this onion” layer by layer. Whenever I begin to feel forgiving toward my neighbors, or tired of this fight, or some City functionary tells me to kiss off – on official letterhead, no less! - without fail my neighbors’ commercial icemaker runs all night and ruins my sleep. That infernal machine always renews my resolve to see this thing through.

I am here tonight to personally deliver to you the report that could not be written by your staff because of its “complexity.” (To submit this report through City Administration would ensure that you never see it because of their prejudice.) It has newly obtained documents, from original public sources, which bring the events of 1986 through 1989 concerning 810 Fishback Street into clear view and completely erase all of my neighbors’ fraudulent claims of a grandfathered business use of their property. Combine that with the absolute absence of any land use permits issued to them by the City of Manteca and… you will get the picture. I drew one for you.

It is clear to me that your staff won’t move without direction from you. I request that this report be included – intact - in your next City Council meeting binder and a presentation or public hearing be set for this item on the next City Council agenda.

The report itself I will publish here next week after it has been delivered to the City Council.

It's nice when everyone is singing from the same page in the same hymnbook, so, to help the City council along a little bit, each of these people and organizations will receive a copy:

Distribution List

1. Willie Weatherford, Mayor
2. John Harris, Councilman
3. Vince Hernandez, Councilman
4. Debby Moorhead, Councilwoman
5. Steve DeBrum, Councilman

6. Steve Pinkerton, City Manager
7. Joann Tilton, City Clerk
8. Dave Bricker, Chief of Police
9. Rex Osborn, Police Department, Public Affairs
10. Greg Baird, Police Department, Code Enforcement
11. Mark Nelson, Community Development Department, Director
12. Mark Meissner, Community Development Department, Planning Manager
13. Lantz Rey, Community Development Department, Associate Planner
14. Alma Martinez, Community Development Department, Planning Technician
15. John Brinton, City Attorney

16. Jeff Carruesco, San Joaquin County, EHD, Program Coordinator
17. Greg Olivera, San Joaquin County, EHD

18. Lathrop-Manteca Sun Post, W Yosemite Ave, Manteca, CA (with press kit CD)
19. Manteca Bulletin, 531 E Yosemite Ave, Manteca, CA 95336,
209-249-3500 (with press kit CD)
20. Manteca Live! Joe DeAngelis (with press kit CD)
21. Tracy Press, 145 W. 10th St., P.O. Box 419, Tracy, CA 95378-0419,
209-835-3030 (with press kit CD)
22. The Record, Stockton, CA, 209-943-6397 (with press kit CD)


Sheila Foster, Elia Court, Manteca, CA

Patty “Pit Bull” Letawsky, PO Box 177, Wilton, CA 95693

The first honoree on the list is a woman who stood to plead for help from the City Council to move her complaint along. She told the very familiar story of code enforcement officers seeing the same things she sees - a neighbor fixing cars and large appliances in his garage, these large articles strewn all around his property, day and night visitors racing their car engines, and amateur neighborhood surveillance to document possible drug dealing - but turning around and telling her there is nothing they can do.

Aiee! All they have to do is ask this guy for his business license! If he doesn't have one, start citing him, then fining him. How hard can that be!?

The other honoree is a young woman who spoke during a public hearing to dissuade the council from adopting a pit bull ordinance with "iffy" parts. She returned to the podium during the public comment portion to berate the City Council and Administration for being the "most dismissive" of any public body she has ever dealt with, bar none. (Not that it did any good... they just dismissed her.) She followed that with a similarly worded letter to the Sun-Post editor and, even though she is not a Manteca resident, I take heart from her fearless forthrightness.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Do Pit Bulls, Used Cars, Annexations & Code Enforcement Have in Common?

City of Manteca senior staff are schizophrenic. Of course, its a "trickle down" effect because our Glorious City Council enables them to pursue their pet projects with a free hand, while totally ignoring the festering boils infecting various neighborhoods.

This explains why an unenforceable pit bull ordinance gets adopted 5-0 over the objections of some who have state law backing them up. (Can anyone say, arrogant?)

This explains why code enforcement and planning force a used car dealer to put in "beautifying" downtown landscaping, while ugly, illegal uses of many residential properties - and much illegal business - runs rampant throughout the city, even after code enforcement and planning/zoning are handed the evidence on a silver platter. (Hmm... kinda like "whitewashing the sepulchre.")

This explains why the whole MUSD property must be annexed - along with taking away the protest rights from the East Louise/Airport Way residents - in order to clear a path to the future annexation of a large industrial park. (Restated: My public legacy - your private expense.)

This explains the campaign rhetoric of one councilman, Steve DeBrum, "We must continue to augment an aggressive code enforcement program with a complaint-driven system in order to ... [blah, blah, blah]" and the emphatic public statement of the Director of Community Development, Mark Nelson, "It is not my job to perpetuate the mistakes of the past!" versus the whining, handwringing refrain from code enforcement, "There is nothing we can do."

See the advantages of a huge "committee" run by politicians? They can lay claim to all the credit on one hand and deny any blame or culpability (or responsibility) on the other.