Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is calling for an independent inquiry into Councilman Sean Loloee’s residence, and plans to schedule a special City Council meeting this week to consider his proposal.
The announcement follows reports in The Sacramento Bee that showed a man living at the home identified himself as its tenant; that Loloee’s family claims a homeowner tax exemption on a Granite Bay residence in his wife’s name; and that Loloee appeared to take his oath of office in 2020 at the Granite Bay home.
Loloee has maintained that he lives at the home on Nogales Street in Sacramento’s Hagginwood neighborhood. He has explained the Granite Bay residence differently in interviews with The Bee and CBS 13 (KOVR).
Sacramento requires council members to live in the districts they represent. Lololee represents District 2, one of the eight in the city. His district covers the northeastern part of the city and includes Old North Sacramento, Hagginwood, Woodlake, Del Paso Heights and part of Robla.
“A clear and objective accounting of the facts regarding your residency is important to assure the residents of District 2 that their elected representative actually meets the legal requirements to represent them,” Steinberg wrote in the letter, which he sent Loloee Tuesday afternoon. “Under our Council rules, all members agree to put the public first and to hold each other accountable. Transparency is vital to the public trust. An independent inquiry would allow us to settle this question on behalf of the residents of District 2 and to move on as a Council and a city.”
In response, Loloee declined to agree to an investigation and instead said he wanted the council to decide whether one should take place.
“I believe this matter should be brought to the full council for a vote and be determined by my colleagues, understanding that this decision is not solely up to the Mayor or me,” Loloee said in a statement Tuesday.
“The Mayor has seen every inch of my home, including where I sleep, work, and collect my mail. I can provide that opportunity to every councilmember, and I am already in full cooperation with the city. I acknowledge the comments I made regarding my swearing-in location were inaccurate,” he continued. “But the public and my colleagues should know that while I did not handle this situation as articulately as I could, my primary focus was to ensure the safety and privacy of my family. I look forward to this matter being fully resolved in the near future.”
The county assessor’s office sends Loloee’s property tax bill to his North Natomas office, not the house on Nogales Street.
When The Bee visited the Hagginwood house earlier this month, a man said he rented the house from Loloee with his son, and that nobody else lived there. Neighbors in three nearby households said they had never seen Loloee. On Tuesday, a fourth household said the same.
Loloee told The Bee his wife’s Granite Bay house has been vacant for about two years. After the story published June 17, he then told CBS 13 that his wife and children have lived in the Granite Bay house since August.
Loloee bought the Nogales Street house and registered to vote there in 2019 just before filing papers to run for council, county records show. He has voted three times since then, including earlier this month.
In California, if a city council member does not reside or have a domicile in the district they represent, the council could vote to declare the seat vacant, and the member would be replaced, or any individual could file a “quo warranto” lawsuit, said Fred Woocher, an election law attorney. A person who votes from a place they don’t live could face criminal charges for perjury and voter fraud, Woocher said. If convicted, the person would lose the council seat.
A group of about 16 North Sacramento leaders sent a letter to the mayor and council Tuesday urging them to launch an investigation into Loloee’s residence “with all prudent haste.”
“Although the allegations against Council Member Loloee are still legally unproven, the articles raise serious concerns that deserve investigation,” the letter read. “State law requires local elected officials to reside and be registered to vote in the districts they represent. Statute defines legal residence ‘as physical presence combined with an intent to remain.’ It is unclear that Council Member Loloee satisfied these requirements when he filed his candidacy and during his term in office.”