Council to consider new method for choosing commission members

The structure of the Huntington Beach Community Services Commission could be under threat.

The City Council voted 6-1 on July 1 to consider a proposal by Councilman Joe Shaw to rethink the number of commission members and how they are chosen. Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Harper dissented.

Currently, the commission's 11 members are appointed. Five are chosen by City Council representatives and six represent each school district in the city — Huntington Beach Union, Huntington Beach City, Fountain Valley, Westminster, Ocean View and Coast Community College. All members are approved by the council.

The item passed Monday night gave City Attorney Jennifer McGrath the task of drafting an ordinance that would increase membership to 12 people. Seven would be chosen, one each by the seven members of the council, and five would represent the school districts, removing the Coast Community College District from the mix.

Council members said they understood that having an even number on the commission could present voting problems but wanted to get something in writing and discuss the details at the next meeting.

Councilwoman Jill Hardy supports the changes, saying they would create a better balance and retain the relationship with the school districts.

"I don't know how often a 6-6 vote would occur or how often an absence occurs, but that would be the only concern," she said.

The Community Services Commission is responsible for developing park, beach and recreational facilities around the city, according to the city's website. The proposed senior center is one of the major projects it has been working on.

Harper, a former trustee with the Huntington Beach High School Union District, said he appreciated Shaw's effort to have better council representation but doesn't like his approach.

"I don't think that trying to cherry-pick is the way to approach it," Harper said. "I think a more comprehensive discussion in regards to each of the commissions that would benefit from that sort of realignment would be appropriate."

Shaw's original recommended action was to have each of the seven council members appoint a member and have the three districts that own developed public parks in Huntington Beach — Ocean View, Fountain Valley and Westminster — choose representatives.

Harper said this would not send the right message to the school districts.

Councilman Dave Sullivan congratulated Shaw for bringing the item to the table and said he wants to see a different means of appointment.

"I think the current situation is really out of whack when people appointed by other entities outnumber the citizens, if you will," he said. "I realize those people are citizens, too, but I just don't think that's a good situation."

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