Council asked to give broad and ill-defined powers to City Manager
By Colin Walsh
The City of Davis has announced a “special meeting” for tomorrow evening to address the COVID-19 virus and local situation. The agenda contains only 3 action items:
- A proclamation of local emergency
- Urgency Ordinance Adopting Emergency Regulations Related to Evictions
- Closed Session with the city attorney on a matter posing a threat to the public’s right of access to public services or public facilities
The proclamation of emergency grants considerable authority to the City Manager.
The City Manager or their designee is to be the head of the local emergency response and they will have latitude to purchase supplies as needed and to “to ensure the continued operations of essential city services, including but not limited to police, fire, water, streets and highways, wastewater, or solid waste services.”
“The City Manager is further authorized to take any necessary actions to approve plans and specifications; to award and execute construction contracts, amendments, and equipment purchase contracts where sufficient funds have already been budgeted in appropriate programs for these purposes or where appropriate funds can be identified; to approve subdivision improvements, final maps, and parcel maps; to accept modify, or quit claim easements; to apply for or accept grants, and to approve budget adjustments.”
This ordinance gives the City Manager latitude to address the potential looming COVID-19 health crisis, by giving the ability to approve emergency development without council approval, like a new hospital for example.
The language “to approve plans and specifications,” and “to approve subdivision improvements, final maps, and parcel maps; to accept modify, or quit claim easements,” also seems to give the City Manager the authority to advance new non-emergency development, like new apartment complexes, housing subdivisions, or business developments.
[edit 3/17/2020 12:15am] - much of the language cited in the paragraph above "The City Manager is further authorized... budget adjustments." is largely the same as resolutions the council passes when they take a summer recess, for example this one from the summer of 2018 and actually grants fairly limited power to the City manager as it relates to new development.
What is most notable here is instead this language, "In order to reduce the number of necessary public City Council meetings." The City Council will be considering whether or not to essentially take a recess or at least to meet less for an undefined period of time. Usually recess resolutions like this have a defined end date, but in the case of the emergency resolution, no end date is defined. Instead, the City Managers extra authorities only ends when the council votes to end the declaration of emergency.
Thank you to Council Member Frerichs for explaining some of this. [end edit]
The urgency ordinance can be found on the City Website here.
The Agenda is as follows and can be found on the city website here.
At this time, any member of the public may address the City Council on matters which are listed on this agenda. Comments are usually limited to no more than 2 minutes per speaker.
*We encourage public comments be submitted in writing to CityCouncilMembers@cityofdavis.org. Emails are distributed to City Council and staff. If possible, please send emails by 4:00 p.m. on the meeting date.
Proclamation of a Local Emergency in Response to COVID-19 (City Manager Mike Webb/City Attorney Inder Khalsa/Police Chief Darren Pytel/Fire Chief Joseph Tenney)
Recommendation: Approve Resolution Proclaiming the Existence of a Local Emergency Due to Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Urgency Ordinance Adopting Emergency Regulations Related to Evictions and Declaring the Urgency Thereof (City Attorney Inder Khalsa)
Recommendation: Adopt Ordinance. (Please note: Ordinance will be distributed at the City Council meeting.)
Closed Session pursuant to Government Code §54957(a): The City Council will conduct a closed session with the City Attorney on a matter posing a threat to the public’s right of access to public services or public facilities related to COVID-19.