August 19, 2014

Property owner defends right to independent review

By Property owner defends right to independent review

Thomas Lippman, like too many Oakland property owners, has been abused by an out of control bureaucracy. He’s taking a stand, demanding scrutiny of the bureaucrats’ treatment of him. In 2010, the county’s Grand Jury sharply condemned the building department for its abusive enforcement practices and unfair appeals process.

In light of the history of abuse documented by the Grand Jury, his claim is surprisingly modest – an agency can’t impose $10,000+ in fees without giving property owners a right to an appeal to an independent appeals board or the city council.

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Lippman v. City of Oakland

Oakland’s Building Services Division has a long history of mistreating the city’s property owners and engaging in systemic conflicts of interest. Thomas Lippman owns rental property in the city. The agency cited him for $10,000 worth of alleged building code violations. Lippman, who believes these citations are unwarranted, pursued an appeal but ran into a big problem: The only person who can hear appeals is appointed by Building Services! Not surprisingly, the agency’s hearing officer rubber-stamped the citations. Represented by PLF, Lippman is now suing in state court, arguing that Oakland’s refusal to establish a neutral appeals process violates state law.

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