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Costa Mesa may swap out COIN employee-negotiations ordinance

Costa Mesa City Council members will discuss Tuesday whether to toss the local COIN ordinance, which places additional transparency requirements on negotiations with public employee associations.

Council members will discuss possibly scrapping the Civic Openness in Negotiations, or COIN, ordinance and whether to adopt a replacement policy that, in Mayor Katrina Foley’s view, would accomplish the same openness goals.

“I want to keep all the parts that are about being transparent and open to the public, but eliminate the burdensome aspects of the COIN ordinance,” she said Friday.

Adopted in 2012, COIN stipulates that proposals and offers from both the city and an employee union be posted online during contract negotiations. Council members must also disclose when they communicate with representatives of employee associations.


The ordinance also requires independent financial analysis of contract proposals and designation of an independent negotiator to bargain on the city’s behalf.

Supporters of the law — like its author, former Mayor Steve Mensinger — say the rules expose labor negotiations to additional public scrutiny.

Voters, he said, should be the ones to decide the fate of COIN.

“Her request to remove an ordinance that received acclaim from transparency groups all throughout California is specious at best,” he said Friday. “I believe it’s a commitment she made to the unions to get her majority elected.”


Foley rejected that characterization and said she would like to see the council adopt policies that maintain some of COIN’s provisions.

“I do agree, and I support, having the information about the formal proposals available online and the fiscal analysis done,” she said. “I think that’s important.”

There are aspects of COIN that Foley thinks are problematic. For instance, after the council designates a chief contract negotiator the ordinance requires a 30-day waiting period during which the city is not allowed to talk to a union’s bargaining team, and the council is not allowed to discuss the negotiations.

“It drags everything out,” Foley said.

Another issue at play is a 2015 law called the Civic Reporting Openness in Negotiations Efficiency Act, also known as CRONEY, which applies specifically to jurisdictions that have adopted COIN ordinances.

CRONEY essentially requires city contracts worth at least $250,000 to have an independent auditor review and report on their costs. Costa Mesa would also be required to release detailed information about negotiations pertaining to such contracts, council agenda documents state.

“It creates a huge layer of additional bureaucracy for our city to have to deal with and I don’t believe it creates any additional transparency,” Foley said. “We want to maintain transparency, good governance, fiscal accountability, but eliminate the unnecessary bureaucratic processes that are a burden.”

CRONEY’s provisions wouldn’t come into play if Costa Mesa repealed its COIN ordinance.


Tuesday’s council meeting starts at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.


Marijuana ordinance

Council members will also mull extending a previously adopted “urgency ordinance” that preserves the city’s current rules regarding marijuana after voters statewide legalized its recreational use.

That ordinance, passed unanimously with no discussion on Jan. 3, prohibits marijuana use in the city to the extent possible under state law.

At the time, staff members said maintaining the status quo regarding marijuana in Costa Mesa would give them more time to study options for implementing the new law.

The original urgency ordinance was approved for a period of 45 days, meaning it would expire on Feb. 17. The extension, if approved Tuesday, would keep its provisions in place for a further 10 months and 15 days.

The ordinance does not affect the voter-approved Measure X, which allows businesses that research, test, process and manufacture some medical marijuana products to open in the industrial and manufacturing zone north of South Coast Drive and west of Harbor Boulevard — though not in South Coast Collection — provided they obtain permits from the city.


Measure X maintains the city’s ban on over-the-counter marijuana dispensaries.

Twitter: @LukeMMoney