From Hess to Mayeda:
Dear Ms. Mayeda,
I am forwarding this letter to you in response to your Department's publication on your website of a so called "Fact Sheet Re: D.E.L.T.A. Licensing and Litigation Prepared by the County of Los Angeles". This publication, apparently, was made in response to D.E.L.T.A. Rescue's July, 2010 "Dear Leo" newsletter and in response to the many calls from outraged supporters of D.E.L.T.A. Rescue to the county supervisors. For the reasons stated below the contents of the "Fact Sheet" are pernicious and blatantly misstate the facts. For the same reasons, your representation that "Inaccurate statements continue to be made by Mr. Grillo" are false, reckless and, therefore, appear to have been made maliciously and in a manner unbefitting a public official. ................
Your written representations to the public that "D.E.L.T.A. has had ample time to comply with the requirements of the current ordinance", and that "Grillo represented to the court in May 2009 that he could obtain the license in 30 days, but has he has still not complied with requirements on all animal facilities" are false, and fly in the face of the facts on the ground, which you and the County should be aware of. They constitute propoganda of the worst kind. They have been made with reckless disregard for the truth and have maliciously misstated the actual state of affairs.
I was in chambers with the Judge while the settlement with the County was being negotiated. The District Attorney, Mark Lee, represented to Judge Jared Moses that D.E.L.T.A. Rescue could get a license in 30 days, and that any issues with regional planning or building and safety could be taken care of the separately. I objected, as I told Judge Moses that this was not the way things work when a facility applies for a license, and that Animal Control, contrary to what Mr. Lee stated, would not issue a license absent the approval of Regional Planning and Building and Safety. Judge Moses acknowledged this reality, and the Judge has continued to do so at several status conferences which have been held since May, 2009 and which you have not attended.
Immediately after the plea was entered, D.E.L.T.A. Rescue forwarded a renewal application based on the indication that Animal Control was going to issue a permit within 30 days. That application was rejected by Animal Control's "Major Case Unit Supervisor" Sherry Koenig who sent back an "Initial License Application for animal related businesses" along with a note that stated "Please be advised that Regional Planning and Building and Safety must sign the application before we can approve it". Mr. Grillo completed and submitted the application for D.E.L.T.A. Rescue on May 7, 2009. You also wrote me on May 19, 2009 to confirm that "The pre-approval by Building and Safety and by the Department of Regional Planning is standard procedure".
Shortly thereafter I personally went to Building and Safety and Regional Planning to obtain their approvals for the kennel license application. I was informed at that time that Building and Safety would be performing an inspection sometime in June, 2009. I was also informed by Regional Planning that D.E.L.T.A. Rescue needed to submit and obtain approval of a "Site Plan Review Application". Thus began a journey that is ongoing and has resulted, so far, in the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars with no end in sight.
Building and Safety sent an inspector to the Supersanctuary in June, 2009. However, we never heard back from anyone. Upon inquiry, I was told that "building and safety cannot complete its work and give its approval until Regional Planning has given its approval!
D.E.L.T.A. Rescue obtained an engineer to perform all the work necessary to complete and obtain approval of the Site Plan Review Application. This was an expensive project, undertaken in reliance on Regional Planning's statement that this was what they needed to give their approval on the license application. After an investment of $20 plus thousand dollars, the Site Plan Review Application was submitted in December, 2009, and summarily rejected as being the wrong Application!!!
The engineer was informed, for the first time, that a small part of the Sanctuary lied in a "Sensitive Ecological Area" since the Santa Clarita River began its course at the foot of the Supersanctuary and because of the possible presence in the river of a protected species. Specifically, we now had to deal with the potential ecological impact of the Supersanctuary operations on the "stickleback fish". As a result, a whole new set of requirements came into play, at a cost of many tens of thousands of dollars and with a time frame for Regional Planning of not less than two years. These requirements include obtaining our own biological impact study, Regional Planning then performing its own biological impact study, all part of a process of, hopefully, obtaining a conditional use permit after a public hearing before the Planning Commission.
I was further informed by Regional Planning, for the first time that D.E.L.T.A. Rescue also needed to submit and process a Certificate of Compliance Application because prior owners had failed to have the subdivisions comprising the Supersanctuary real property properly recorded. I have been informed that this process could also take many months to complete.
At a March 10, 2010 status hearing I explained these chain of events to Judge Moses. Incredibly, District Attorney Mark Lee tried to persuade the Judge that D.E.L.T.A. Rescue was not acting in good faith in trying to get a license. As evidence, Mr. Lee stated that D.E.L.T.A. Rescue's engineer had been instructed to delete the parcel with the SEA issues from the Site Map! He then criticized D.E.L.T.A. Rescue for not following the county's alleged advise to lie! Judge Moses expressly found D.E.L.T.A. Rescue to be acting in good faith. Here is the direct quote from the court reporter's transcript:
"Well, let me just tell you my view. I don't want to be dragged into a property dispute here...My order is that..the facility get licensed....lt sounds like they are making efforts and it sounds like rather significant efforts in terms of expenditure of time and money and energy and jumping through all of the bureaucractic and administrative hoops necessary. I don't see any foot- dragging here. It seems like they're on it and they're doing what they need to do, but that there are a lot of hoops that they have to jump through....I would say that it's certainly not Mr. Grillo's fault, that these repeated administrative administrative and procedural barriers keep popping up that they then have to overcome. But it seems like they're making a good faith effort....That's my view".
Still not satisfied, Sherry Koenig took it upon herself to contact Building and Safety to get them to inspect the Supersanctuary. A man named Francis showed up at the Supersanctuary but no one knew why he was there. When I contacted Fancis' supervisor, he stated that Ms. Koenig had not told him that Regional Planning was still engaging in its review process, and that there was no
way Building and Safety would or could do anything until the Regional Planning process was finished!
Then the clincher. To add insult to injury, and awakening our worst fears, we first learned after the March 10, 2010 hearing that you and Deputy County Counsel Diane Regan were amending the Title 10 Animal Control ordinances in a manner that could legislate D.E.L.T.A. Rescue out of existence. This process of amending the Title 10 ordinances, had commenced shortly before the criminal trial against Leo Grillo began.
I also learned that an ordinance was being proposed that would limit any animal facilities, newly defined to include "animal sanctuaries", in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County to 50 dogs 50 cats. Any animal facility could apply for an exception, but only if "it had been licensed during the previous 12 month period". Well, needless to say, that would not include D.E.L.T.A. • Rescue as it had not yet obtained its license and could not do so for another several years, minimum, due to all the "bureaucratic hoops" it was being forced to jump through. Coincidentally or not the 50 dog 50 cat ordinance was drafted at or around the same time as Regional Planning rejected the Site Plan Application. Indeed, I was informed that someone in the county counsel's office had "flagged" the application. The scenario is all the more ominous
given that our canvassing of the animal facilities licensed by Animal Control in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles has revealed that only a small percentage have more than 50 dogs and/or cats and that an even smaller percentage have as many as 125. Less than a handful have as many as 150 dogs and cats. In contrast, D.E.L.T.A. Rescue provides care for life to approximately 1,500 dogs and cats at its no-kill Supersanctuary.
I immediately contacted Diane Regan who claimed ignorance, stating she could not say that the ordinance would not apply to D.E.L.T.A. Rescue. I subsequently learned that the 50 cat 50 dog ordinance had been sent back for redrafting. But that is not very reassuring, especially in light of a June 25, 2010 email I read that you sent to Merritt Clifton of Animal People magazine, which is remarkable if for no other reason than your appearance of being ignorant of D.E.L.T.A. Rescue's license status. In that email you confirmed that "if they're already licensed then they will be granted the over 50 license." You surely knew at the time you wrote the email that D.E.L.T.A. Rescue had not obtained its license as of that date. One can only conclude that you will try and exercise your discretion, if allowed, to draft, obtain approval of and then enforce an ordinance that could legislate D.E.L.T.A. Rescue out of existence. All this begs the question: Did you communicate with anyone at Regional Planning with knowledge relating to D.E.L.T.A. Rescue's ongoing efforts at compliance before you caused the "Fact Sheet" to be published? I know you did not contact me.
In conclusion, it is apparent that Animal Control and the County have yet to finally decide as to their final determination as to whether or not they will issue a kennel license to D.E.L.T.A. Rescue if and when it is able to jump through all the hoops and obtain the approval of Regional Planning and Building and Safety as you will first then perform your inspection of the Supersanctuary. However, for the present, and on behalf of my clients D.E.L.T.A. Rescue I hereby demand that you immediately remove the above referenced "Fact Sheet" from the Animal Control website. The contents are libelous and malicious, and constitute official action in interference with the constitutional and property rights of my clients. The publication has caused
and will continue to cause my clients to suffer economic loss, emotional injury and loss of reputation, and prospective economic loss, all to their great damage and suffering. This must stop now! In the event the Fact Sheet is not removed from the website, we will seek advise from appropriate counsel as to our available future legal course. Of course, this should not be deemed in any manner to prejudice my clients' rights and remedies when and if this matter is ever finally resolved and/or if the 50 dog 50 cat ordinance is enacted and used against D.E.L.T.A. Rescue in
a way that interferes with its right to continue its business.