Do we need to sequester council members?

At a recent Torrey Pines Community Planning Board (TPCPB) meeting, Councilwoman Sherri Lightner declared that she was not allowed to listen to the TPCPB or citizens in attendance discuss the One Paseo Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).    The reasoning is a San Diego City Attorney Opinion No. 90-2 from June 15, 1990.    The opinion related to ex parte communications by council members.  The short version is that council members are required by law to be impartial, noninvolved decision makers.

The devil is in the details between quasi-judicial versus quasi-legislative matters.  In the often cited Fairfield decision, the court stated, “A councilman has not only a right but an obligation to discuss issues of vital concern with his constituents and to state his views on matters of public importance.”  (14 Cal. 3d t 780).   The issue is the legal rights of an applicant to impartial council decision on their project versus the U.S. Constitution rights under the first Amendment.

Is the public gullible enough that they would believe that even if the council member walks out on a community board meeting that their staff does not inform their boss what transpired?  What about all the literature printed by the applicant or the opinions voiced in news articles? Does this not influence the decision maker?  What about all the private meetings held in council offices?

There are two ways to address the “Silencing of the Public’s Voice” and that of our community’s civic engagement.   Sequester the council member during the public response period on a DEIR.  This is what judges do to avoid a jury being tainted by outside influence.  I am not suggesting that but rather our council member should publicly announce what their guiding principles are in regards to large-scale projects.

A list of questions to be opinioned on can be developed such as:

• Would short-term economic benefits outweigh future quality of life issues?

• How do you weigh the consequences of cumulative environmental impacts to your district versus perceived benefits to the entire city?

• To make an informed decision, what questions would you ask after reading the DEIR?

Our voices need to be heard not squelched by bureaucratic red-tape !

Dennis Ridz

Related posts:

  1. SD Council members: No more VIP boxes
  2. Solana Beach City Council grants permit for sea wall repair
  3. Solana Beach City Council to receive a pay raise
  4. Del Mar City Council’s new members welcome community input
  5. Carmel Valley Rec. Council not permitted to comment on One Paseo project

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=35216

Posted by Staff on May 17, 2012. Filed under Letters, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Archives

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

LA JOLLA NEWS

RSS LA JOLLA NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RSS RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

  • Rancho Santa Fe resident’s Gen 7 wines earn top honors
    Rancho Santa Fe resident Tim Bacino’s Gen 7 Wines is on a hot streak, his varietals winning several awards this summer in California wine competitions. […]
  • Torrey Pines High School baseball alum Taylor Murphy excelling in pro ball
    It was during a breakout senior year at Torrey Pines High that Taylor Murphy first popped up on the radar of professional scouts. Shortly after graduation, Murphy was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the June 2011 amateur draft. He declined, honoring a commitment to the University of the Pacific. Three years later, Murphy got another sho […]
  • Why Hire a Licensed Landscape Professional?
    By Steve Jacobs, Nature Designs The old saying – “if something seems to good to be true, it probable is” – is quite fitting when it comes to hiring a contractor for your home or yard construction project. While it is smart to shop around, get quotes, etc., don’t fall into the trap of trusting […]