Charter panel thinks long-range

Costa Mesa's proposed charter isn't quite out of the brainstorming phase yet, but already guidelines that would allow others to make changes to it someday are being added.

The Charter Committee voted 10 to 3 to add the possibility of changing the charter should a petition signed by at least 2,500 registered city voters show a will to do so. Members Kevin Tobin, Harold Weitzberg and Mary Ann O'Connell dissented.

Proponents argued that changing the charter shouldn't be too easy a feat, and that needing so many signatures would deter capricious and frequent changes.

The detractors agreed with the sentiment that the charter shouldn't be too easy to amend but preferred that the number of signatures be fewer or possibly based on a percentage of the previous election's voter turnout.

Before the change, the proposed charter allowed for updates once a decade by a review committee. The committee members would be appointed by the City Council.

An earlier proposal would have required 1,500 signatures.


Paycheck protection

The committee rejected a proposal that could have provided local regulation of automatic payroll deductions from city employees' paychecks.

As a general-law city governed by certain California Government Code provisions, Costa Mesa can institute some automatic salary deductions, according to the committee's report on the matter. Those include contributions to unions or nonprofits, such as an officers' memorial foundation, if the City Council approves the measure.

As a charter city, officials could have provided their own rules for such payroll deductions, according to the committee's counsel.

The committee is still aiming for a March 12 completion date with presentation of the document to the council on March 18.

The council will have a final say on the document before it goes to voters this year.

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