In an effort to beat back the worst effects of the recession, the Ontario City Council, much like other cities, has extended building permits and development plans that were set to expire. Since 2009, the council has approved one-year extensions for all permits to address the economic downturn, but now the council is facing legal action over this common practice. A local group known as the Ontario Mountain Village Association has filed a lawsuit against the city because the group’s attorney, Cory Briggs, alleges the extension of permits lacked transparency and that some businesses may benefit more than others.
It is worth noting that the Ontario Mountain Village Association is strongly opposed to the presence of a new Wal-Mart in the city, which is likely the motivating factor behind the legal action. After all, the group sued the city back in 2007 when it approved the retail giant’s supercenter. The Daily Bulletin reports:
“The [extension of permits] was done to keep projects going when the economy did recover so builders would not have to wait at least a year for a project to again go through the permit process before it could move forward. ‘It certainly wasn't intended for one specific project, it's for all projects,’ said Councilman Alan Wapner.”
According to City Attorney John Brown, no other city has faced litigation over the extension of permits and Brown advised the council that “There's no question in my mind that the city can proceed. You are clearly within your legal right to consider this ordinance." In March there will be a hearing on the lawsuit in San Bernardino County Superior Court.