Charter Review Committee
Planning Commission Appointment
Date: January 5, 2005
Sub Committee Members: Michael Riedeman and Hal Cloer
Should the appointment of Planning Commission members be proposed by city council members in addition to the mayor?
The Planning Commission is an unelected city body granted the following powers and duties:
1. Recommend to the city council and all other public authorities plans concerning the future growth, development and regulation of the municipality in respect to: its streets, traffic, parking, housing, sanitation, public utilities, parks, grounds, transportation facilities, public and private building usage and size, zoning regulations, and the industrial and the economic needs of the community.
2. Study and propose measures for: the promotion of the public interest, health, morals, safety, comfort, convenience, and welfare of the City and of the area six (6) miles adjacent thereto.
3. Study needs of local industries with a view to strengthening and developing them and stabilizing employment conditions.
4. Advertise the industrial advantages and opportunities of the city and availability of real estate within the city for industrial settlement.
5. Encourage industrial settlement within the city.
6. Make economic surveys of present and potential industrial needs of the city.
7. Do and perform all other acts and things necessary or proper to carry out the provisions of O.R.S. 227.010 to 227.150. (http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/227.html).
In the past year, a number of community members spoke at city council meetings and editorialized in the local newspaper expressing dismay over the mayor's use of his sole power to appoint and not re-appoint Planning Commission members. As a result, it was proposed that the Charter Review Committee engage in discussions to determine whether the whole city council should be the "appointing authority" for Planning Commission members rather than the mayor alone.
Budget Implications: None
Ø With the Planning Commission's broad power to recommend and study city planning and advertise for and encourage industrial settlement, some concerned citizens feel this commission's authority, in particular, is too extensive to be granted to an unelected body with all members selected by one elected official. More councilor input would allow for more direct citizen representation.
Ø This change would add little or no additional time to city council meetings or effort to councilors to give initial input in recommending applicants than under the current system since councilors already approve commissioners and do whatever research they feel is necessary regarding the candidates. Candidates would still apply to the city in general; councilors would need not search them out.
Ø Under the current system, councilors have no authority to approve a mayor's de-appointment of a Planning Commissioner, which proved quite controversial this year.
Ø The current system is more streamlined. This view suggests that it would cause undue additional work for councilors and add much extra time to city council meetings to have councilors select which applicants they would like to recommend while it is quicker for the mayor to make the picks and have councilors simply approve the mayor's choices or not.
Ø Ethical considerations and conflicts of interest are adequately covered under Planning Commission membership restrictions (listed in ORS 227.030) .
*Giving the mayor sole authority over Planning commission appointments strengthen his/her leadership role.
The Charter Review Committee must evaluate several factors related to this:
1. Whether it would better represent citizens for one mayor or for all councilors (including the mayor) to recommend Planning Commission members for appointment.
2. Whether council members should have a vote regarding de-appointment of a commissioner.
3. Whether any perceived benefit of such a change would be overshadowed by any perceived increased burden of work in granting councilors official power to recommend Planning Commission members from among the list of applicants.
Resource for this Report:
City of Ashland, Planning Commission website: http://www.ashland.or.us/CCBIndex.asp?CCBID=198
Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS 227): http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/227.html
Ashland City Council meeting minutes: http://www.ashland.or.us/Agendas.asp?AMID=1641, http://www.ashland.or.us/Agendas.asp?AMID=1649
Ashland Daily Tidings guest columns: http://www.dailytidings.com/2004/0430/043004forum.shtml, http://www.dailytidings.com/2004/0506/050604forum.shtml,
Rogue Valley IMC http://www.rogueimc.org/en/2004/04/2478.shtml