Costa Mesa has final charter meeting

The Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday is expected to put its city charter plan on the general election ballot.

A charter — a city constitution by another name — would allow municipal issues like zoning, city project funding and elections to be decided by the council.

The meeting, which is the third and final discussion on the charter, is also the last chance for the council to amend it before sending it to the Nov. 6 ballot.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer introduced the charter idea late last year. Pointing to cities like Oceanside that recently switched to a charter and reportedly saved money on public projects, he created a first draft by copying in provisions from other cities' constitutions.

A final version, developed after six months and several public meetings, was initially approved for the June primary ballot, but the city clerk missed a filing deadline for it to get on that ballot.

The document has a slew of vocal detractors from former mayors and council members to longtime residents who are skeptical of the current council majority's motives. The document is too vague, they say, with many powers not specifically enumerated in the charter still left in city leaders' hands.

There are few differences between the charter slated for the June ballot and the one likely headed for a November vote. The current version would require city employees to proactively pay into a union account to fund political activities instead of having it withdrawn as part of regular association dues.

The charter would separate Costa Mesa from a state requirement that projects using only city money pay wages agreed to by the state and labor unions.

An earlier version should have said that the city is exempt from prevailing wages on public projects when they are only funded by city money.

Once every 10 years the council would also decide if a commission should be created to review and amend the document. Some residents have said that isn't frequent enough.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 77 Fair Drive.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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