City Beat

Robbie Waters wants Planning Commission seat, but councilman objects

Former Sacramento City Councilman Robbie Waters appears at the grand opening of the new Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library in 2010. Waters has applied for a seat on the city planning commission, but one councilman has “serious concerns.”
Former Sacramento City Councilman Robbie Waters appears at the grand opening of the new Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library in 2010. Waters has applied for a seat on the city planning commission, but one councilman has “serious concerns.” mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

Robbie Waters was a high-profile politician in Sacramento for years, serving 16 years on the Sacramento City Council and one term as the county sheriff. But he’s receiving pushback for a job he wants on a commission that pays no more than $200 a month and carries far less stature than his previous gigs.

Councilman Steve Hansen said Tuesday that Waters should not be granted a seat on the Planning Commission because Waters’ son Dan was at the center of a city scandal six years ago.

Dan Waters, a former development department supervisor, was accused of issuing 35 home permits in North Natomas in the spring of 2009, an apparent violation of a federally mandated moratorium on construction in that neighborhood while river levees were upgraded. City officials said the permits violated city code but were not the result of a criminal act.

A resulting external audit and investigation determined the development department had failed to collect more than $2 million in fees from developers, and the head of the department was ousted. Robbie Waters later blamed the scandal for his third-place finish in the 2010 primary, which ended his City Council tenure.

Waters touted his four decades of public service and background as a building contractor in his application for an open seat on the Planning Commission.

Seats on the planning commission are vetted by the City Council’s Personnel and Public Employees Committee before going to the full council for final approval. At Tuesday’s personnel committee meeting, council members Angelique Ashby and Larry Carr voted in favor of placing Waters on the Planning Commission. Carr said he couldn’t “think of anyone who’s more qualified.”

But Hansen, the third member of the committee at the meeting, said he had “very serious concerns about Mr. Waters.”

“I think this council would take a very significant hit in public perception by appointing him to the same commission that oversees the department in which his son perpetrated some very serious crimes in our city,” Hansen said. “They are not (Robbie Waters’) actions, but they do bring about the perception that we are complicit in those if we appoint him.”

Those words seemed to rile Carr, who said he was “not persuaded by someone’s son committing crime and guilt by association.”

“I think Mr. Waters has served admirably, and I don’t know of anything he did while on the council to besmirch himself or to bring discredit on the council or the city,” Carr said.

Hansen voted against the application. The full City Council is expected to vote on the matter in early February.

Waters did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis

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