Charter Review brainstorming meeting, Thurs Feb 25, 7pm


By on Wed, February 24, 2010

Art by Benj. Franklin

The Charter Review Committee (CRC) is a panel seated every 8 years according to the county charter to review the very document that guides county government. The CRC is the local version of a Constitutional Convention and it is in the process of examining a variety of potential changes to the county charter.

One of the items on the CRC agenda is an examination of changing the way county supervisors are elected from an at-large system to a district based system. Last June, the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury issued an advisory letter to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors directing the five-member board to change the system under which supervisors are elected from an at-large system to a district based system through the Charter Review process.

A group of Coastside citizens are meeting Thursday night to discuss how this can impact the unincorporated Midcoast community and how to address the committee.

Click below to see the agenda, and bring your own ideas.

Charter Review Brainstorming Meeting AGENDA

Location: Granada Sanitary District, 504 Ave Alhambra 3rd Fl, El Granada, CA 94019
Date: Thursday, February 25th
Time: 7:00pm-9:00pm
7:00pm Call to Order, Introductions, Review Agenda

7:15pm Status updates and related announcements
7:20pm Overview: Role of Charter Review Committee
Potential Charter Amendments

  • Filling vacancies on the Board of Supervisors: appointment vs. election
  • Board of Supervisors elections: at-large vs. district
  • Optimize efficiency in the County structure- combining elective offices and or departments
  • The process for drawing district boundaries
  • Non-constitutional county officers-should they be elected or appointed
  • Campaign financing restrictions
  • Qualifications for elected/appointed county officers
  • Periodic Review of Boards & Commissions
  • Instant runoff election for County offices
  • Supervisors’ oversight of investment policy/indebtedness
  • Setting of Board of Supervisors’ salaries
  • Accountability/oversight other elected County officials
  • Accountability of elected County officials
  • Private Defender
  • Citizens’ participation in review panel for hiring of department heads

Discussion about requesting additional Charter Revision amendments:

Streamline Countywide government by eliminating Countywide special districts.

County should apply to LAFCo to dissolve all existing Countywide special districts, whose functions should be taken over by existing county departments.

Harbor District: Very expensive to get elected because it’s at-large County-wide and voters know little about the District.  In decades, only one incumbent has not been re-elected, and he was an appointed incumbent.  Low visibility and problems at the Harbor District have been well-documented for many decades.  Citizen input is mostly ignored by the Commission.  All functions could be assumed by County departments of Public Works and Parks and Rec.

Mosquito Abatement District: The 21 member board has no elected officials. Unincorporated area may not have any representation at all.  Very low visibility. Citizens have no way to influence how this district operates.  All functions could be assumed by County departments of Public Works and Environmental Health.

7:50pm Discussion of some ideas for changing County Government structure to improve representation, services, and governance of the unincorporated areas.

Idea 1

Change the charter to establish an "unincorporated council" (UC), which would have all the authority for the unincorporated areas that a city council has in a city. Require the County to fund the unincorporated council at the same level of property tax, sales tax, TOT, etc that a city could receive.  Restrict BoS authority to only those functions, which apply Countywide.  I.e., if the BoS currently doesn’t have the authority to do a certain thing within an incorporated city, that authority would be transferred to the Unincorporated Council.  Election would be "by division".  Only voters in the division would vote for their council member. The UC would appoint two members to an expanded LAFCo.  This part would require a change to state law and of course would be fought tooth and nail by the BoS.

Idea 2

Change the charter to require the County to apply to LAFCo to form a new city in any community when the developed residential density exceeds two houses per acre.  (Most Midcoast residential parcels are 5,000 sq ft postage stamps which results in approximately 8 per acre after allowing for streets.) The County would be required to shift property tax to insure that the proposed new city is financially viable, eliminating the primary reason that the supervisor-dominated LAFCo could use to deny the application.  When the density threshold is reached, County would be prohibited from issuing residential building permits until the application is submitted to LAFCo.

Open to other ideas…

8:50pm Announcements

9:00pm Adjourn