By DAVID REAGOR
Los Alamos County Council
The UnQuarked business is a wine bar and restaurant that has operated in Los Alamos for a number of years. Last year they attempted to move to a new site on Central Avenue. Almost a year ago the county government stopped work on the site by red tagging their remodeling efforts. The owner states that he intends to file suit against the county. He alleges financial harm caused by the county government actions that are “unlawful, arbitrary, and capricious”.
The same space was open as a restaurant in the past, it was the former home of the Blue Window Bistro. The utilities for a commercial kitchen then would be in place. The new tenants are essentially installing appliances. The rest of the remodel should be paint and décor, you do not need a building permit for either activity.
The county leaders argued that the county has the power to demand a building permit for any activity. A jury will never agree with that, as no citizen wants unlimited government intrusion. If you need a building permit to put in an appliance then Home Depot or Lowes delivery and installation option would triple the price of any appliance. A jury of peers will not be supporting the county position.
The point of building codes is public safety. Where is the public safety issue here? If the UnQuarked building violates code then the Blue Window would not have been open. UnQuarked would have to modify the structure to introduce a public hazard. There is no evidence of a structural change, so county position also does not make sense from a safety perspective. The county council and government are working against a business that will only provide food and drink to the public, hire workers, and pay taxes. It also does not make sense to oppose these economic benefits.
The county position is flawed from legal, public safety, and economic perspectives. The final point is that any future liability will belong to the county taxpayers. You get the bill!
Editor’s note: Readers are encouraged to do their own fact checking of statements made in opinion pieces.