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Council Sets New Rules for City Boards and Commissions

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Lookout Staff

April 28, 2021 -- The City Council on Tuesday approved a lengthy set of rules that will guide policies and procedures for Santa Monica's Boards, Commissions and Task Forces.

The changes are expected to "increase effectiveness, attract diverse representation from the Santa Monica community, and align Board and Commission activities with departmental workplans," according to City staff.

“It’s important to regularly evaluate where we are and where we want to go and that’s what this action signals," said Mayor Pro Tem Kristin McCowan.

"We want more participation and more diverse participants," said McCowan, who served on the Pier Corporation Board before becoming the first Black woman to serve on the Council.

Among the changes approved by the Council Tuesday were:

  • Requiring members who "term out" to wait one year before applying to another board or commission,

  • Having members of boards that meet monthly vacate their seats if they have "two consecutive unexcused absences out of six consecutive meetings,"

  • Electing officers each year to one- or two-year terms after the annual appointments, which will be made in June,

  • Starting meetings no later than 7 p.m., "absent extraordinary circumstances,"

  • Providing an annual review of progress measured against the department's workplan,

  • Attracting more diverse members by increasing community awareness through social media, events and community-based meetings, and conducting "specific outreach" to potential members between the ages of 18 and 29, and

  • Reviewing all advisory bodies every five years and considering updating board and commission applications every five years.

In addition too the changes, the Council directed staff to return with an ordinance to convert the Task Force on the Environment to a permanent commission.

The newly titled Commission on Sustainability and the Environment would share the same term limits and bylaws as other advisory bodies and would include "environmental justice" as a goal.

In addition, the Council directed the City Attorney to explore whether it is legal to assign one Councilmember to each advisory body as a liaison.

It also directed Commissions to continue quarterly meetings though December 2021, "with the exception that charter-based Commissions, adjudicatory bodies, and advisory bodies with sufficient staffing."

The adopted changes stem from a year-long review by a Community Working Group (CWG) of "the bylaws and purview of Santa Monica’s advisory bodies" and the recommendations it presented to the Council, staff said.

The group examined but did not recommend the definition and differences between Boards, Commissions and Task Forces, staff said.

To learn more about Santa Monica Boards and Commission opportunities, visit

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