A majority of the Laguna Beach City Council this week voted to draft a resolution that would require a member of council, city council, commission or committee to consult with the city manager if they wish to request that an item be placed on a town council meeting. agenda.
Mayor Sue Kempf, who introduced the item, said the existing process has become inefficient, requiring council and the public to have multiple discussions about initiatives, sometimes without the benefit of a staff report to provide context.
Under the new policy, once a request is made to the City Manager, staff would be responsible for preparing a report on the matter, which would then be forwarded to City Council within two to three months. Kempf argued that having research done by staff before a point comes to the board would allow the panel to have a more informed discussion.
“Some of these things that we’ve put on the agenda, I think, would be best served by working with the city manager,” Kempf said. “[It can be] more enlightening than just pushing it forward and putting it on the agenda and having a discussion about it.
If a staff member is unavailable to respond to the request, the matter would be brought to council, and a majority of council would have the opportunity to determine whether there was merit in pursuing the matter.
“It was a shock when I saw that [proposed resolution]said Councilwoman Toni Iseman, who along with George Weiss cast the dissenting votes in the 3-2 decision. “This [matter] doesn’t advance unless I can count to three, so there’s an early veto.
Proponents of a change in agenda-setting policy argued that the public was inconvenienced by being asked to show up at multiple meetings to make their case before the board acted on an item.
Weiss indicated that he believed his abilities as a decision-maker would be negatively affected by the new policy. He has had his name attached to a council item for consideration at every council meeting since at least May 10, including items relating to climate change, business license fees and the banning of certain types of balloons.
“It’s an undue restriction to just start a debate,” Weiss said. “We’re not wasting a lot of time.”
For municipal councils, commissions and committees to place items on the council agenda, the council liaison, agency chair and liaison contact the city manager to propose an initiative .
Initiatives from bodies other than the Planning Commission, Design Review Committee, Arts Commission, Parking, Traffic and Traffic Committee and Sight Restoration Committee should register in the board-approved work plan for the associated committee.
As would be the case with an article submitted by a member of council, the City Manager would determine if staff resources were available to complete the analysis of an article before it was presented to council. In the event that staff resources were not allocated, the board would receive a presentation and determine if there was support for staff to return with a report on the agenda.
“I think it makes sense as a process because that’s how we did it,” Pro Tem Mayor Bob Whalen said. “Try to go through the city manager, put it on the agenda within 60-90 days, that’s fine. I like the idea of [initiatives] only coming to us once.
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