The Coast News Group
Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News

Changes to regional appointments process voted through in Oceanside

OCEANSIDE — A series of City Council meetings and special meetings pushed through a 3-1 vote on Dec. 12 to allow council members to initiate appointments and recalls of city representatives to regional appointments, which includes the SANDAG Board. 

The vote may not be the final word on how to appoint the city SANDAG representative who casts Oceanside’s votes on regional roadway funding.

Supporters and opponents of the amendment dug in their heels on their respective stances.

The council majority of Councilmen Jerry Kern, Gary Felien and Jack Feller passed the amendment. Their stance is that all council members are voted into office and should have an equal say on the appointments. They also support local road growth.

Mayor Jim Wood opposed the amendment. He and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, who was absent from the meeting due to her attendance at a California Coastal Commission meeting, believe nominations for appointments and motions for recalls should remain the responsibility of the mayor.

Wood and Sanchez take a smart growth stand on roadways, which takes community character and shared road provisions for walkers and bikers into greater account.

They called the amendment sour grapes for Kern’s loss to Wood in the mayoral race and questioned if the process used to pass the amendment was legal.

“It’s not fair to citizens,” Wood said.

Felien said the catalyst for the amendment is to give council members more say and to replace Wood on the SANDAG board.

“I don’t know if we lost the election,” Felien said. “We (the council majority) have three votes. Two votes do not run the city.”

Prior to the vote Wood requested that City Council seek the counsel of the Attorney General on the item or supply him with an attorney. The council majority turned down both requests.

Wood gave a list of possible next steps that might be pursued before the approved amendment becomes law in 30 days.

He may independently seek counsel of the Attorney General or secure an attorney.

Residents may gather 8,300 signatures to oppose the amendment, or recall a council member, or turn over the City Charter and return Oceanside to a general law city.

Close to a dozen speakers supported the Mayor and called the amendment a sham and waste of time.

They added that they would be out collecting signatures opposing the amendment.

“Road building is an unpopular project,” Lindy Bravo, Oceanside resident, said. “You’re putting us on a fast track to nowhere.”

Kern said he does not see the likelihood that an injunction will be placed against the approved amendment since no legal rationale has been given as of yet.

He added that he could not rule out the possibility that a sufficient number of signatures may be collected and push a final decision on the amendment to a June vote.

If the amendment is delayed for any reason, the window will close for the Council majority to replace Wood on the regional SANDAG board in time for another member to be named on the committees this year.

Wood said a new makeup of SANDAG board members will be appointed by San Diego County cities within the next two months and that board would not support Oceanside Council majority’s road growth views.