City Zoning Board Member Fields Criticism for Permit Violation

Photo: Ryan Lau, member of the city's Zoning Adjustment Board and aid to City Councilmember Darryl Moore, was cited Monday for construction work done on a garage on his property (pictured) without the proper permits.
Michael Kang/Photo
Ryan Lau, member of the city's Zoning Adjustment Board and aid to City Councilmember Darryl Moore, was cited Monday for construction work done on a garage on his property (pictured) without the proper permits.


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After neglecting to obtain the proper permits for construction at his West Berkeley home, a member of the city's Zoning Adjustment Board and an aide to a Berkeley City Council member has fended off calls for his resignation, calling the incident a "mistake."

Ryan Lau was cited Monday by the Building and Safety Division of the Berkeley Planning and Development Department for "work without permit" and "work concealed without inspection" for construction work done on a garage on his property located on Carleton Street.

Lau, whose job includes administering the same permits he failed to acquire, admitted that he did not follow city regulations during construction on his property but said he is in the process of rectifying his actions.

"I didn't get the permits for the work that I did," Lau said. "There's not much I can say except that it was a mistake."

Lau said he has taken a leave of absence from the board while he "clears the situation up," and added that he is working with the planning department to acquire the proper permits for construction.

Fred Dodsworth, author of the March 10 Berkeley Daily Planet op-ed that initially revealed the construction, said he believes Lau acted intentionally, adding that it is indicative of "an incredible double-standard" in the community.

"(Lau was) complicit in the deliberate subversion of the ordinances, regulations and rules that everyone else has to comply by," Dodsworth said. "He needs to resign not only from his Zoning Adjustment Board position, but from his city council position as well."

Councilmember Darryl Moore, with whom Lau works as an aide, said he was disappointed when he learned of the situation.

"I expect him to do everything that's necessary to bring his garage up to necessary code and standard," Moore said.

Moore added that he does not know what disciplinary action he will take, but he expects Lau to "make the situation right in the eyes of the public.

"A young man made a mistake, he is owning up to it, and he is correcting his error," Moore said. "(This is) not a question of corruption."

The citation calls for corrective action and orders Lau to stop all construction work immediately and file a building permit application within 15 days among other requirements.

Lau may also have to pay twice as much in permit fees per city policy according to Deputy Planning Director Wendy Cosin.

"He'll be treated like every other applicant," Cosin said. "He has to go through the process, and we charge double fees for construction without permits."

Dodsworth said Lau kept one wall of the garage up in order to conceal the construction.

Lau confirmed that he had left one wall of the old structure up, but said this was a safety precaution.

"The only reason we did that was because (the new structure) was an open building," he said. "So we didn't want people to wander into the building during construction."

Lau added that he would like to continue his work in the city's government, if given the chance.

"I don't think that my personal life should be a reflection on my performance as an employee of the city of Berkeley," he said.

Hailey Parish of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

Tags: ZONING ADJUSTMENT BOARD, RYAN LAU, COUNCILMEMBER DARRYL MOORE


Contact Shaunt Attarian at [email protected]



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