After last week’s article in the Bohemian questioned whether Councilman Chris Albertson should serve on the City Council while claiming a homeowner’s exemption in another county, Albertson defended himself by explaining his living arrangement at Monday’s meeting.
“The article infers that I have done something if not illegal, possibly unethical and that suggestion is completely untrue,” Albertson said in a prepared statement he read from the dais. “My bank account, drivers’ license and voter registration are all here in Petaluma. My wife’s primary residence remains at the old address and she divides her time between Petaluma and the old address.”
The Bohemian article questioned whether it was ethical for Albertson, a former Petaluma Fire Chief who was elected to city council in 2010, to claim a primary residence in another county while deciding on Petaluma issues. But Albertson explained that while he did not own property in Petaluma, he spent the majority of his time here and met the requirement for local residency.
Albertson added that because his wife Marilyn lives in the Santa Barbara home, while he is a renter in Petaluma, the couple qualifies for the homeowners’ exemption at the old address.
“I own one piece of property, it’s located in another county,” he said. “When we purchased that property in 1973, we like all residential owners were automatically granted a homeowner’s exemption. A property owner does not have continuously reapply for his homeowners’ exemption, it simply rolls over automatically as it has done on mine for 39 consecutive years.”
The councilman blamed “upcoming controversial issues” on the allegations of impropriety and said his residency had never been an issue since running for office three years ago.
“It’s regrettable that a small group of people choose to not focus on the issues, but attack the credibility and the integrity of individuals who might be offering differing opinions,” he said.
City Attorney Eric Danly concluded that Albertson satisfied the requirement for serving on the council after asking Albertson several questions, including which property he considered home.
“The real focus…is the definition of residence and there is no legitimate issue with that,” Danly said.