Futility in Government Award

Bay Area biologist Terry Preston was concerned about creekside development in her area, so she hit the books to find relevant laws and zoning rules ...
by | June 15, 2006

Bay Area biologist Terry Preston was concerned about creekside development in her area, so she hit the books to find relevant laws and zoning rules that might aid her cause. She hit paydirt, coming across a 1977 county law that put restrictions on building around creeks.

The trouble was, the law wasn't enforced. No one even seemed to know about it. Supervisor Gail Steele, who wasn't elected to the county board of supervisors until 15 years after the law had been passed, told the San Francisco Chronicle "she did not feel good about the plan getting dropped but such occurrences are not unusual in county government given the workload.

" 'I bet you 90 percent of the time any studies get done, they go on the shelf and they never get followed,' Steele said."