Public's chance to voice concerns over proposed charter is Tuesday

Residents have another chance Tuesday to offer their input into Costa Mesa's proposed charter, which is slated to go on the general election ballot this fall.

Next week's City Council meeting will double as the first state-mandated public hearing for the charter — a city's self-written constitution — one of three officials will have to host before November.

Costa Mesa is currently a general law city that operates under the state's constitution, even for local issues such as elections, zoning and public works contracts.

For strictly local affairs such as those, Costa Mesa can rewrite the rules for itself.

Since Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer proposed the issue last winter, Costa Mesa's approach has been under fire by council critics.

Instead of electing a citizen committee to write a first draft of the document, Righeimer spearheaded the effort and created it himself.

City officials maintain much of the charter is innocuous, but it isn't without controversy.

The version proposed now doesn't require Costa Mesa to pay standardized wages agreed to by unions and the state for public projects.

Also, public employee retirement benefits could only be improved by a majority of the city's registered voters, which could be a significant hurdle without massive voter turnout.

Going to a city charter would not void the city's contracts with its employees or allow it to change retirement packages unilaterally.

The City Council meeting and public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Costa Mesa City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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