Clay Aurell Violated the Act of Conflict of Interest

It was several months ago when architect Clay Aurell, of AB Design Studio, and a member of the Architectural Board of Review (ABR), represented a client at the same time he lobbied for her project to Santa Barbara City staffers. The project on West Mission Street was one of the more contentious ones the City has seen in a while—a topic which set and still holds the record for comments on Santa Barbara View).

FPCC Aurell Exhibit

As a public official who also had an economic interest in the project he was pushing, Aurell was accused of a conflict of interest, for using his influence as an ABR member to put pressure on City staff to move the project forward. He ultimately resigned from the ABR, but a complaint was filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPCC), as exclusively reported here.

Clay Aurell's Stipulation

Today, the case is on the FPPC agenda, with reports recommending a $3,500 fine (out of a possible $5,000). The exhibit (PDF right) concludes with the comment, “Respondent [Aurell] should have known that such use of his official position would be in violation of the Act.” Aurell has submitted a stipulation (PDF left) in agreement that he did so.

The question: What, if any, is the penalty  for City staff who went along with Clay’s requests and acted unethically along with Aurell?

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9 Responses to Clay Aurell Violated the Act of Conflict of Interest

  1. Boycott Boy March 15, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    Anyone slick enough to play the players is a hero in my book…

  2. Anonymous March 15, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    There wont be any penalty. It will be swept under the rug and the modern house will stand for the next 50 years.

  3. Yawn March 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    West Mission again? Let it go, and yawn yawn. Let them build and stop wasting tax payers money on all the back and forth crap

    • Anonymous March 16, 2012 at 7:55 am #

      This is not about West Mission. It’s about a public official who failed to live up to the standards of the postion and a process that allows it. And surely this isn’t the only case where the public got left out while the behind-the-scenes pressure won. Shame on all of them: the entitled owner, the compromised architect, the misguided staff members who did not hold the line, and the highly paid upper management of the Planning and Development department that allows this kind of behavior to go on, with a wink and a nod.

  4. Bill Carson March 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    So this guy acts like a crook, in a crooked system, and all you posters have to say is yawn, yawn, no big deal? No wonder this city is so effed up. It’s full of apathetic people who don’t understand the meaning of integrity, and don’t give a hoot about honesty and accountability. Why don’t you all apply for membership in a separate and distinct species, and get the hell out of mine!

  5. Ethic Concerns March 16, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    Many suspect this type of unethical and illegal behavior has been going on from some architects on the ABR. Now it’s been proven by a state commission that one architect did violate the Act related to Conflict of Interest. Public officials have to abide by the Political Reform Act; this is law. The fact that Clay Aurell violated one of the Acts is a serious issue. Let’s hope the city uses this information to reform the system. If the city brushes this under the rug, then they seem just as guilty. To know illegal and/or unethical activity is going on within a City board and/or city staff and not do anything about it is shameful.

  6. hawk March 17, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I have other interesting info on this too.

  7. hawk March 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    There also was a landscape architect that was on the ABR that was doing the project also. This project was rife with corruption and Dale Francisco was the only one to call it truthfully…the process for this was “tainted.”

  8. Eggs Ackley April 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Many local design professionals are not surprised that Aurell’s misdeed made the headlines. It is still a small town in some respects.