CITY OF GUADALUPE
July 25, 1995
Dear Judge Melville:
At its meeting of May 22, 1995, the City Council of the City of Guadalupe reviewed the 1994-95 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury Interim Final Report -- Response to Citizen Complaints. It was the consensus of the Council that the City of Guadalupe's procedures for handling of citizen complaints are adequate. I concur with that consensus.
This consensus was achieved after considering several points:
1) Currently, complaints to the City, whether they originate directly from a citizen or if they come through a complaint made directly to a councilmember, are handled as expeditiously as' possible. Complaints regarding utility billing are handled by the Director of Finance and his/her staff. Complaints regarding police matters are directed to the chief of Police. If the Director of Finance or the Chief of Police cannot adequately satisfy the complainant, then the complainant is directed to the office of the City Administrator. All other complaints are immediately lodged with the office of the City Administrator. The City Administrator then resolves the issue. This may or may not be to the satisfaction of the complainant. The citizen then has the option to go to or return to a Councilmember for additional consideration of their grievance.
2) At least ninety-five percent of the complaints received by the City have to do with problems involving utility billings. Each of these utility billing complaints is appropriately logged, quickly investigated, and resolved (even in those cases in which the City Administrator's Office must become involved).
3) The City has a limited staff. Additional bureaucratic paper work and reporting will not solve the problem of inefficient complaint handling. Time and money spent on a complaint tracking program would be much more wisely spent on actually developing resolutions for citizen complaints.
4) One of the assumptions of the Grand Jury is that their proposal would result in a reduction of costly litigation. The Council does not believe that this would be true for Guadalupe. In terms of litigation costs for issues not related to workers compensation claims, the City's total costs (litigation and settlement) for the last four fiscal years are as follows: FY 91-92, $O; FY 92-93, $1551; FY 93-94, $1839; FY 94-95 (to date), $294.
5) There is one area in which the City is probably guilty of prolonged response to citizen complaints. This is in the area of code enforcement. Without staff to handle these types of complaints (e.g. , noisy operations, animals, excessive clutter and debris) , it sometimes takes an extended period of time to respond.
If there are any questions, please call me at City Hall (343-1340).