The San Diego Charter Review Commission ended its yearlong task Monday night, sending several controversial recommendations to the mayor and City Council. Commission Chairman Edward T. Butler expressed confidence that the council will place all of the proposed charter amendments before voters for their approval.
The 14-member commission approved a 101-page final report containing its 13 proposed revisions, key among them an increase in the number of council districts, veto power for the mayor, an independent redistricting commission, and elections to fill council vacancies.
Other suggested changes to the city’s “constitution” include: the election of the mayor and the city attorney in odd-numbered years to ensure annual citywide elections; voter approval for the sale of city-owned parcels of 80 acres or more; a longer period for citizens to contest by referendum council decisions on placing commercial uses in city parks; greater benefits for minority- and women-owned businesses to bid on and receive city contracts, and removal of gender-specific language from the charter.
Commission Was Created Last March
The commission was created last March to study ways of updating the charter to make local government more responsive to changes in San Diego that have made it the nation’s seventh-largest city.
In June, the commission proposed an independent police review commission that was approved by voters in November. A competing proposal for citizen review of police was also put on the ballot by the City Council. Voters approved both, but the City Council’s measure gained 880 more votes than the commission’s recommendation. A legal battle is going on to determine whether both propositions should be enacted or only the City Council-backed measure.
In April, the City Council voted to put all recommendations of the Charter Review Commission directly on the ballot without alteration. But the dispute over the police review board measure has caused some council members to question whether they should stick to that pledge.
Butler referred to that commitment in his closing remarks Monday night.
‘We Have No Control Over This’
“God knows what they’ll do with it. . . . We have no control over this after we send (the report) on,” he said. In showing commission members the certificates of appreciation issued them by the city clerk, Butler added: “I strongly suspect these are the only things of gratitude we will receive.”
But, in comments to reporters, Butler said he believes that, “in the final analysis, the City Council will respond to the moral imperative of their commitment and let the people exercise their judgment. . . . There will emerge the conclusion that the people have the right to decide in a democracy. . . . That is what this is all about.”
Should council members renege on their pledge, Butler said: “They will show that you can’t trust anybody in government.”
Butler told commission members that, although their proposed measures appear controversial today, “In the future, people will look at us and say this was a group that saw the future and suggested and sought ways to meet it.”