Commentary: Charter would free Costa Mesa from state control


Can you remember the last time Sacramento passed a law that made our city better off?

Neither can I.

However, I can think of plenty of laws Sacramento politicians have approved that imposed costly mandates on our city, dictated how we spend our residents’ tax dollars and told us how we must conduct business in our own city.

For too long Costa Mesa has had to listen to Sacramento politicians who are out of touch with our needs, controlled by special interests and are only looking out for themselves.

Cities throughout California have grown equally frustrated over the continued power grabs by Sacramento. That’s why 120 cities throughout our state have decided to implement their own charters, or local constitutions, that are specifically tailored to address and protect local needs.


This November, Costa Mesa has an opportunity to join those other cities and finally break free from Sacramento. We can regain the local control we deserve and protect taxpayer dollars.

We can accomplish this by approving Measure V, which would allow Costa Mesa to adopt its own charter.

The charter contains a number of provisions that give our city greater flexibility over local affairs while providing opportunity for significant taxpayer savings.

The charter would implement fair and open competition for public-works projects within our city. This will reduce costs and free up funds for improvements to libraries, parks and other public services.

Furthermore, this provision protects all workers — both union and nonunion — and ensures they have equal opportunity to compete for projections.

In addition, our city would be exempt from prevailing wage laws, which will further reduce expenditures by our city on public projects.

These two sections alone will save Costa Mesa taxpayers millions of dollars. They will also improve our city’s ability to provide and grow local jobs for local workers.

Measure V would also take an additional step toward fiscal responsibility. Cities throughout California face bankruptcy under the weight of unsustainable pensions and over generous benefits provided to city employees.

Fortunately, Measure V would require that Costa Mesa voters would have to approve an increase in any city employee retirement or post-retirement benefits.

This would implement a safeguard against politicians providing Cadillac retirement plans in exchange for political support. However, to ensure fairness, this would not apply to cost of living adjustments, which would continue to increase automatically.

In addition, the charter would prohibit the city from collecting political contributions through payroll deductions from city employees. This protects our city workers from having to financially contribute to political causes they might not support themselves. This provision also further limits the influence that special interests have on our local politics.

Beyond the clear financial benefits that Measure V provides, the charter would transfer power away from Sacramento and back into the hands of Costa Mesa residents. With local power restored, our citizens will have a greater voice in the affairs of our city and can hold local leaders accountable for the decisions that affect Costa Mesa.

This November, Costa Mesa residents have a rare opportunity to send a strong message to politicians in Sacramento. By supporting Measure V, residents of this city will stand strong in favor of local control and taxpayer savings.

GARY MONAHAN is a member of the Costa Mesa City Council. He is seeking reelection in November.