The Coast News Group
Photo by Steve Puterski

Carlsbad adds slew of ad hoc committees to address issues

CARLSBAD — As part of its push to engage residents and address issues, the City Council formally approved three additional ad hoc subcommittees during its July 23 meeting.

Some of the more pressing needs for the committees to tackle include updating the council’s policies and city code, addressing the city’s expressive activities ordinance and homeless action plan and creating a standing legislative committee. The council also approved an ad hoc subcommittee to address issues and concerns with sober living homes.

City Council and staff have been updating city codes and policies over the past year. The subcommittee, made up of council members Keith Blackburn and Cori Schumacher, will continue to identify sections and policies in need of updating and bring back recommended amendments to the council.

The committee, according to Jason Haber, assistant to the city manager, will dissolve once the updates are complete.

As for expressive activities, the City Council has been grappling with revamping its ordinance after the “Families Belong Together” march in June 2018. Nearly one thousand people attended to protest the President Donald Trump’s policies regarding immigration.

However, many of the organizers felt threatened by the city and Carlsbad Police Department after issues concerning the group’s special activity permit, which they did not have, including threatening the protesters First Amendment rights. Since then, the city has proposed a standalone ordinance.

Many local First Amendment advocates, though, railed against the new ordinance, along with how long the city has been working on the new ordinance during a public forum on Jan. 30.

“We feel the subcommittee and the city reps along with NCCLC will result in a finished product that satisfies both parties,” said Yusef Miller of the North County Civil Liberties Coalition. “We are prepared to roll up our sleeves for the honest discourse in with keeping the First Amendment rights and expressive activities.”

Blackburn and Schumacher were selected for the committee and have 90 days, or until the council adopts the ordinance, whichever happens first. Blackburn, a former CPD officer, said he wanted the position because he brings a different viewpoint than Schumacher regarding the issue.

“We come from totally different perspectives, not that we don’t agree,” Blackburn said. “This is one felt strongly about being a member of.”

The homeless committee, meanwhile, will recommend whether the city should participate in the regional North County Homeless Action Plan, a collaborative effort between cities and stakeholders to address homelessness.

Mayor Matt Hall and Schumacher were appointed to the committee, which will dissolve in 180 days unless the city joins the program before the deadline.

The legislative committee is the only committee without an expiration date and is subject to the Brown Act, which requires those meetings to be open to the public and noticed with agendas in advance. Hall and councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel will serve on the committee.

They are charged with reviewing the city’s legislative policy, make recommendations, monitor state and federal legislation and identify and recommend bill sponsorship opportunities to the council. The term for the committee is indefinite and starting next year, will also be part of selecting which councilmembers to serve on board and commissions following the general election.