Unclassified Info: The city's hand in homeowners' pockets

In today's world, it's easy to be a conspiracy theorist. At least it is for me.

Despite my belief that civic and government agencies are desperately trying to nickel and dime us all, I am not a paranoid individual. But I have been wary of Glendale parking enforcement, which I truly believe is nothing more than a profit center disguised as law enforcement.

I developed this hypothesis after receiving a parking ticket in one of the public parking lots downtown. I deserved the ticket. What confounded me were the additional penalties for infractions that could only have been discovered if the enforcement officer had performed a 360-degree inspection of my car, which he or she obviously did.

At the time, I was not a resident of Glendale and vowed not to frequent businesses in the city as a way of retaliating against a civic bureaucracy that would go out of its way to dog-pile financial penalties on top of parking violations. For the record, I exercised a lot of willpower and stayed out of Glendale for some time.

More recently, I was not particularly in favor of the Rossmoyne neighborhood, where I live, being named a historic district by the city. I have a bit of a problem with a city telling me what I can and can't do with the façade of my residence.

I understand the effort to preserve relevant architecture. And I do believe that the odds are more in favor of such preservation efforts helping, rather than hurting, home values in the neighborhood. But I become wary when city officials create regulations that are highly subjective because they involve rendering an aesthetic opinion.

Remember, this is a civic group who, in my aesthetic and professional opinion, botched the rebranding of our city. We're supposed to entrust them with decisions regarding our personal property?

Only time will tell if this distinction is a benefit to homeowners, or a burden.

And just last week, I was contacted by Nancy Black, a fellow resident, who was outraged when she received a notice from the city clerk's office indicating that she is required to pay for a kennel license simply because, “It has been brought to the attention of this office that you have three dogs residing at your residence.”

According to the letter, Black now owes $100 for an application fee and then $50 per year for the kennel permit. A kennel permit is required if more than two dogs over the age of four months are housed at one location, with four being the maximum for a non-commercial kennel.

The additional money the city is seeking is on top of the annual license fees she'll owe for her three dogs. I guess the names of her dogs were likewise brought to the attention of the city clerk, since they were specifically identified in the letter.

The conspiracy theorist in me believes this request for fees is nothing more than a good old fashioned shakedown. How was the fact that Black owns three dogs brought to the attention of the city clerk? Are there roving bands of doggie enforcement officers lurking about? Or did a neighbor of Black's alert the city?

Black doesn't think so. “My neighbors are cool,” she told me.

So get ready for another hand reaching into your pockets, pet lovers. Any day now you could receive a letter from the city clerk letting you know that some incriminating information landed on the civic desk and as a result, your wallet is about to get a little thinner.

GARY HUERTA is a writer living in Glendale. While finishing his second novel, he also pens an online column published weekly at iPinion.us. Feel free to follow and friend Gary on Facebook.

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