The Galleon On The Back of Redlands City Hall

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Frank E. Moore, in Redlands, Our Town, mocks this galleon on the back of (old) City Hall because it has oars.   I decided to check it out in person today on my way to the library.

IMG_2138

Here’s the photo that I took. However, with a very small amount of Internet research, some galleons had oars.  See this book, for example.

Copyright 2015 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP
A: 1447 Ford St. #201
      Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 296-6708

Former Assistant City Attorney Michael Reiter Eyes Council Seat – Redlands Daily Facts

Today, the Redlands Daily Facts published an article on my application to be the next Redlands City Council Member.  The story is here.

Copyright 2014 Michael Reiter

Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP
A: 1447 Ford St. #201
      Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 296-6708

The Relationship Between the City Manager and the City Attorney in California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I have worked in three cities: I was a clerk in the City of Santa Clara in an in-house City Attorney’s Office of a charter city with an appointed City Attorney; I was a Deputy City Attorney in the City of San Bernardino, with an elected City Attorney, and I was the Assistant City Attorney of the City of Redlands, a general law city with an in-house appointed City Attorney.   There was only one City Attorney and City Manager for the City of Santa Clara during my tenure, only one City Attorney and one City Administrator transformed by a charter change to City Manager in San Bernardino, yet there were two City Managers and one interim City Manager during my time as an Assistant City Attorney in Redlands.   In Redlands and San Bernardino, the same City Attorneys reign still, and the City Attorney of Santa Clara, Mike Downey only retired within the last decade after decades of service.

Typically, the relationship in a general law city between the City Attorney and the City Manager is that they are both appointed by the Council, and subject to removal by the Council.  That means they have similar interests.  Typically, both the City Attorney and the City Manager have to keep the Council happy and do their respective jobs, and only rarely will they be on the opposite side of any issue.  In the best situations, the City Attorney can assist the City Manager in accomplishing the City Manager’s duties in accordance with municipal, state and Federal law.

In a charter city, it depends on what the Charter says, but I am not aware of any Charter that subordinates the City Attorney to the City Manager.  Certainly, Santa Clara, San Bernardino and Riverside do not. Typically, the functions are separate, and the two must work together in the same way as in a general law city to meet the city’s needs, whether administratively, during budgeting and on employment matters.

An elected City Attorney, a relatively rare position, has an independent base of power granted by the electorate, subject to removal from office by regular election or recall.  This can create a different dynamic between the appointed City Manager and the elected City Attorney, because their interests are not necessarily the same.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St. Suite 517
     Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 708-6055

Why an In-House Public Lawyer Should Stay Out of Politics and Not Express Their Opinion if They Are Not Asked

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Some attorneys are very political.  They donate to local, state and federal candidates.  They hold fundraisers at their multi-million dollar houses (yes, even in the Inland Empire). Sometimes they are very associated with one political party or another.  Some become local officials.  I have no idea if this is beneficial or detrimental  for their practices, firms, well-being, or pocket book.

Public lawyers, and by public lawyers I mean in-house civil attorneys, typically in an in-house City Attorney’s Office or Office of County Counsel, may have opinions but it is usually best if they do not openly express them.  The entity, of course, is the client, but an entity is run by actual human beings.

As long time readers know, I was the Assistant City Attorney of the City of Redlands and a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, each for over four years, for a total of almost nine and a half years.   The environment in each office was different.  In Redlands, it was (then) a two person operation, which, for the size, workload and complexity of the organization, could have accommodated three attorneys.  The City Attorney was and is appointed by the City Council.  A majority of a Council quorum can remove the City Attorney, subject to the City Attorney’s agreement with the Council.  That is a different kind of political environment from the City of San Bernardino.

The City of San Bernardino, with an elected City Attorney, elections every two years, with charter fights, was a Politically-charged entity.  By “Politically,” with a capital P,  I mean municipal election politics.  While the employees of that office felt the secondary effects of the political winds, I was always allowed to do my job.  Certainly, when someone aims for the elected City Attorney, sometimes they hit a deputy.  But for the most part, the Mayor and Common Council, and the staff of the City viewed me, as a Deputy, as a non-c0mbatant.  Humorously, they sometimes treated me as if I were a victim of an evil regime.

People sometimes interpreted, when I was a prosecutor, that I was personally prosecuting people because I was a supporter of whatever ordinance I was prosecuting.   No, I was doing my duty to enforce the rules made by the policy makers.  If there was a problem with a particular rule, a political solution needed to be forged to change the rule.  That political solution was not one that I, as a Deputy City Attorney or the Assistant City Attorney, was going to be a part of, unless I was directed to draft an ordinance by the City Attorney.

Obviously, a wise public lawyer has to fit into the inter-office politics in the in-house environment.   That’s not what I am talking about, and that’s the same in any office with more than one person.  The public lawyer must be political in that sense.

Similarly, as an independent attorney, I do not hold any particular positions on the subjects that I write about.  Even if I am recounting my past actions, I did the things I did because it was my job to do them, because they benefited my public entity client, and it was at the direction of the political decision-makers of the entity.   I was never asked to do anything that was unethical, and even if I were asked to do something unethical, I would not do it.  However, very seldom does the public entity practitioner reach the bounds of the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

For example, someone thought I had a position on allowing Food Trucks in San Bernardino County.  I do not have a personal opinion on the subject.  If a small business retains me to represent them on the subject, my opinion is the same as the client.  I give advice in a neutral fashion, the pluses and minuses of any particular situation.  However, the best interest of the client must be kept in mind at all times.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Copyright 2011 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374

T: (909) 708-6055

E: michael@michaelreiterlaw.com

W: http://michaelreiterlaw.com

 

Front Yard Fruit Stands in Redlands, California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I am a native of the Inland Empire and some of my earliest memories are of Redlands, from the San Bernardino County Museum, to field trips to Kimberly Crest, and attending meetings in the Assembly Room of the A.K. Smiley Public Library.  I learned much more about Redlands as Assistant City Attorney from January 2006 to June 2010. My office as a private attorney is in Redlands.

You can’t really know a city until you have walked its streets, particularly its residential areas.  One of the perksof street level exploration of a city (other than noticing the infrastructure) is finding little gems.  One of the things that gives Redlands its character  is its history in agriculture, not just being the Washington Navel Orange capital of the world, but appreciating the still-large amount of active agriculture.  In addition to active agriculture, there are backyard remnants of groves and other fruit trees.  If you drive around Redlands, you can find many front yard fruit stands.  You can find a story on this phenomenon in the Press-Enterprise article published on March 5, 2010 titled “Citrus Sales are part of the tradition of Redlands, nothing beats fresh” by Jan Sears and Darrell R. Santschi.  As of the writing of this post, it is available online.  I am not going to link to it because newspaper links break very easily.

For example pomegranates grow very well in Redlands.  And even though they are very expensive in supermarkets, you can pick them up at some front yard fruit stands.
I know of no guide to these fruit stands.  As I discover their exact location, I will post their block location and produce.  I do not want to give exact locations, because the people providing the service are doing a great the public a favor, and if the Press-Enterprise story is any indication, running the stands is a hassle.  If anyone with a stand wants to make a comment, or grant me permission to put an exact location, I will publish it below.  If anyone does not want to be included, let me know as well.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St. #517 Redlands CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 708-6055

Is the City of Redlands a General Law City or a Charter City?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I get some of my post ideas through queries that are listed in my site’s statistics section.  The title of this post, Is the City of Redlands a General Law City or a Charter City,  is well-within my expertise to answer because I was the Assistant City Attorney of the City of Redlands from 2006 to mid-2010.  The answer is the City of Redlands is a general law city.  Redlands has never been a charter city, and I don’t think the issue has ever been put to the voters.

As Assistant City Attorney of the City of Redlands, I would sometimes search documents in the City Clerk’s Office  for cases or matters.  The City of Redlands itself had a slightly different form of government until the 1940s, with a Board of Trustees instead of a City Council, but I think that had to do with how cities were organized under California law at the time. 

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Inspection Warrant and Abatement Warrant Requirements for Inspecting Private Property in San Bernardino County, California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Do code enforcement officers need a warrant to inspect private property in San Bernardino County (including incorporated cities and towns in San Bernardino)?  The best practice is to obtain an administrative warrant if the owner/occupant refuses consent to inspect.  Generally, an administrative warrant is not needed if the conditions can be observed from the public right-of-way, or an adjoining property (with permission), and no physical entry onto the property occurs.

When I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, California and the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands, California, a good deal of my time was spent on code enforcement.  Both cities emphasized the need for a warrant to inspect and/or abate private property when permission to inspect was denied.  As a private attorney representing private citizens and business entities, some other Inland Empire cities are not as respectful of citizen’s constitutional rights.

Generally, if consent from the property owner and the occupant cannot be obtained before entering private property that is not open to the public, code enforcement officers should obtain an administrative inspection/abatement warrant from the San Bernardino County Superior Court.  Because the United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment gives property owners and other occupants an expectation of privacy, an inspection warrant is needed.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Connor v. Santa Ana, held that police officers could not legally enter fenced, private property to abate a nuisance without a warrant, even though the property owner had been provided with extensive administrative hearings.  In the absence of a property owner’s and occupant’s consent, barring exigent (emergency) circumstances, government officials engaged in the inspection of private property or abatement of a public nuisance must have a warrant to enter that private property where such entry would invade a constitutionally protected privacy interest.

The Fourth Amendment provides a high degree of privacy protection to the “curtilage” of a residence, the land immediately surrounding and associated with the residence.  However, the United States Constitution allows authorities to inspect open fields at will.  The “open fields” exception only applies to completely unfenced, unimproved property.

Therefore, code enforcement officers may visually inspect private property from the public right-of-way, or from areas that are open to the public such as parking lots, or from private property upon which the officers have obtained consent from the property owner and/or the occupant, depending on the factual circumstances.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.
A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708