Council to consider charter panel members

The Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to look into the selection of members for a committee whose task will be creating a charter in time for either of next year's elections.

The charter, essentially a city constitution, would ultimately change Costa Mesa from its general-law city status under the purview of Sacramento guidelines to one home-ruled by the document. The charter would face voter approval either during the June 2014 primary or the following November's general election.

The exact method of approving members to the committee and their number are to be determined, though city staff members are recommending 13 members and an independent facilitator to help them.

This story has been clarified to say that the council is looking into membership for the charter committee, but not necessarily appointing members for the committee on Tuesday.

"A committee should be large enough to include a broad sampling of the community while manageable enough to ensure the work accomplished," staff wrote in the council's agenda report.

To accomplish this, they have advised the following: In the first round, each council member appoints one person; in the second, five are chosen by a council nomination process; in the third, the remaining three members are chosen by lottery.

The lottery names would be determined by the council. The first three names pulled would get seats on the committee.

The recommended application deadline is May 28, with the selection process occurring during the council's June 4 meeting.

The independent facilitator, potentially chosen by city CEO Tom Hatch, could help the committee with administrative functions, such as coordinating schedules, interacting with city staff and attending meetings, according to the city attorney's office report. The facilitator could also help the group in "understanding and focusing on common objectives, developing a plan on how to achieve those objectives and also working towards a consensus over areas of disagreement."

A facilitator is expected to cost between $4,000 and $8,000.

Putting the charter on the June primary ballot is expected to cost significantly more than putting it on November's ballot.

City staff estimates that holding the vote in June would cost between $85,500 and $106,500. For November, it could be $11,000 tacked on to what the city is already paying for its other elections.


Fire Department changes

The council is slated to look at a reorganization effort of the Fire Department led by its interim chief, Tom Arnold.

The plans come after the council rejected a proposal in April 2012 that would have contracted services to the Orange County Fire Authority.

The department's internal review — "a data-driven approach," according to city staff — stipulates that only about 2% of service calls are for fires, while some 70% are for medical aid or rescues.

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