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Council adopts term limits for commission appointees

ENCINITAS — Terms limits and other changes for the city’s Arts Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Planning Commission and other commissions will take effect in 2014, as a result of a 3-2 council vote last week. 

Now, incumbents who served two terms will have to sit out for one year if they want to reapply for the same commission again. However, if there are no new applicants at the time, a commissioner could stay on for more than two terms.

Council members debated term limits last month. At that time, Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer argued a one-year break would give more people a chance to serve.

Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar opposed the restrictions during that October meeting. If commissioners are unpopular with enough people, the council will hear about it and they likely wouldn’t be reappointed.

“There are certain cases where you don’t vote for an incumbent, because someone comes forward that offers something unique and different,” Gaspar said.

Additionally, the council’s vote extended commission terms from two years to three, with the exception of the youth commission, where terms will remain one year.

In opposing the motion last week, Gaspar and Councilman Mark Muir said term limits remained a sticking point for supporting an update to the commission language.

The mayor will recommend appointments for commissions; a three-out-of-five councilmember vote is required to approve an applicant.

In addition to the aforementioned commissions, there’s also the Environmental Commission, Senior Citizens Commission and newly restructured Traffic and Public Safety Commission.

Previously called the Traffic Commission, the Traffic and Public Safety Commission will include seven members, rather than five as it did before. The name change reflects the commission’s expanded focus on safety.

Council members Shaffer and Tony Kranz will return with language defining the commission’s scope for approval at an undetermined date.



1 comment

Lynn Marr November 30, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Council should set a ballot measure for the public to vote in term limits for Council Members, if it is going to set term limits for Commissioners.

I think two year terms were better for Commissioners. We will be having a two year term for mayor. With appointments every two years, there is the possibility for more turn over, and more public participation.

Sometimes it seems as though the Deputy Mayor comes up with these ideas because she wants to put her “stamp” on Council, not because the ideas have real merit. In particular, it’s not a good idea to change the Traffic and Safety Commission to have seven members.

Planning and Traffic Commissions have more authority than any of the other Commissions in helping Council to set Policy and to make legal findings, and decisions, which determinations can be appealed to Council. To the citizens of Encinitas, it’s important to keep the balance of one Commissioner per community. We currently have one Planning Commissioner and one Traffic Commissioner from New Encinitas (Encinitas Ranch), one from Old Encinitas, one from Olivenhain, one from Cardiff, and one from Leucadia. By adding two new “at large” members to the now being reformed Traffic and Safety Commission, Council is throwing off the balance. What if the two at large members are both from New Encinitas? Anyone should be able to understand why that would feel unfair to those community members not in Encinitas Ranch.

I will be speaking against this change, and I’m glad that Councilmembers Kristin Gaspar and Mark Muir voted against it. Perhaps there should be a rule that making changes to existing ordinances requires a SUPER majority. This proposed change in policy is not positive, and passed by only one Council Member vote. Two readings of the new ordinance are required.

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