The following letter was emailed as a comment for tonight's special City Council Subcommittee on Commission Process meeting.
Dear City Councilmembers and Commission Chairs,
It is extremely difficult to comment on this item without knowing more about what will be discussed. However, one concern I have – and I will just have to see where things go today – is how this group became a “Subcommittee on Commissions.”
The original letter that triggered this subcommittee, a letter that I co-signed, was titled “A Proposal for Improving City of Davis Decision Making.” It included provisions regarding City Commissions, but it was not limited to that. It also included provisions regarding “transparency, information, disclosure, and public engagement” as well as provisions “for developing and making decisions on Staff proposals submitted for City Council action.” It was not just about how commissions operate.
It would be a missed opportunity if this subcommittee were to narrow its concerns from the letter’s original scope. Indeed, it would be a sad irony, given the letter was in part prompted by commissioners feeling that they were not being heard and seeing their communications to the city lost in translation.
There is nothing that commissioners can do that would fix this process. There also need to be changes in the way that staff and the City Council operate if we are to improve decision making in Davis. We need a system with built in checks and balances. Clearly, we don’t have that now.
Today should be just the beginning of the conversation. I hope that commission chairs can meet again in a format more open for discussion with more public notice and public participation.
Former chair and member, Open Space & Habitat Commission
Speaking for myself