The City of Costa Mesa has been in the news a lot lately over a plan to contract out most city services. No point getting into the nitty gritty of their issue here. The residents said phooey to the proposal when it was put to a vote.
Aliso Viejo contracts out virtually everything.
I'm not arguing against contracting out. There are reasons why the contracting out of public safety makes sense on a variety of levels. Tree trimming? No reason to keep an arborist on the city payroll. But can it be overdone?
Full disclosure..I used to work for a full service city. And boy, were we full service. Every city employee knew they worked for the people in of the city.
I love Aliso Viejo. But not too long ago, I encountered a hiccup in the contracting out model. My community was going to have its parking lots slurry sealed. PCM sent us a letter advising us to park on the street. The no parking signs were going to be bagged by the city. No parking tickets for us. Great.
The Sunday afternoon before the slurry seal event, residents began to move their cars to the street. Oops, someone from the Sheriffs Department issued parking tickets to those persons parked next to the bagged No Parking signs. Not to worry, we can get that cleared up.
I contacted Sheriff's dispatch who advised me we couldn't move our cars until midnight. Really? Do you know how riduculous you sound? The dispatcher agreed. I asked to be contacted by who ever was in charge at the Sheriff's station in hometown Aliso Viejo.
I quickly received a call from Sergeant Angeles. I explained to him the situation and he agreed the tickets were issued improperly and we could park on the street in confidence. In fact, those who had received the tickets could contest them and he would personally see they were dismissed.
I explained this would be a problem because the residents who needed to move their cars could see the current citations and were confused as to what to do. How would those who got the tickets know he would cancel them if they contested them?
I asked if he could have someone collect the citations so those moving their cars to the street would not fear getting a ticket for complying with the city's instructions.
He declined to assist and took the time to explain he didn't have to send someone out to collect the citations that were improperly issued by his subordinate. I even asked him if I understood him correctly. He made it clear he was going to be of no further assistance because he didn't have to.
Basically, no one was in charge. Too many cooks do spoil the soup afterall. PCM can slurry seal and ask the city to allow us to park on the street. The city can bag the no parking signs and give us permission to park. The Sheriff's Department can ignore the city. The residents have no one they can call. No one is at city hall.
No one is in charge.