Cautionary Tale Over Duplicate Documents


Almost 10 years ago I requested that the city staff place in my property file an 8 1/2 by 11 photocopy of my property, showing a sweeping view of Main Beach and Coast Highway. It was dated and accordingly filed.

Later I submitted a similar sized photocopy showing two eucalyptus trees growing in that same vicinity showing view blockage. I had written across the top of the photo that the owner of that property was asked to remove the two small trees that were growing wild.

Year after year I would go to City Hall twice a year and check my file to see that the photos were there and they were.

This past week I stopped by and to my shock, amazement, and dismay as well as other emotions the two critical photos were gone. I was told that some items in some files were scanned and a staff person tried to go through my file on the computer to help me find them. Nothing showed up.

I later wrote an email to all city council members, the city manager and other staff.  On Monday, Nov. 4, I go back to check my file and two other photos have been scanned and dated Nov. 4, which had not been there on my initial visit of Oct. 31, but not the two critical ones. In an email, I was given the excuse that so many documents come in and it is hard to keep track and the scanning process was done to thin the files. No reason given as to why my file was chosen, who did the scanning, and why the two critical photos are gone.

These two were very critical as rumor has it that the new ordinance for view preservation will allow city staff to determine view rights as of 2003.

The other peculiar part of the story is that the neighbor with the trees was at city hall filing a complaint that I was doing some construction without a permit (which was not true).  They stated in the complaint that they had looked to see if I had filed for a permit, which meant that they had access to my file in September. I have always been told that individuals cannot remove pages from files, yet these two photos are gone.  Just another coincidence?  You tell me.

Hopefully you have records of your view – because bringing them to the city to be in your file does not seem to work – at least for me.

Ganka Brown, Laguna Beach


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