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Daily Pilot

Council agenda includes city charter

Proposed changes to the document will be looked at as a decision is made regarding whether to put the plan on the ballot.

By Bradley Zint

7:34 PM PDT, June 27, 2014

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The Costa Mesa City Council will begin the 2014-15 fiscal year Tuesday with a busy agenda that includes deciding whether to place a proposed city charter on the November ballot and add security cameras at Fairview Park and other city facilities.

After meeting about 15 times over 10 months, the 13-member charter committee drafted and approved the document — essentially a city constitution — in March for council review.

Throughout the process, and during the two public hearings earlier this year, talking points on the pros and cons of a charter style of governance echoed the debates in 2012 that surrounded Measure V, a charter measure led by Mayor Jim Righeimer, then the mayor pro tem, and rejected by voters.

Supporters say the city should decide its own rules, rather than take cues from Sacramento. They also contend that the charter will save City Hall money and strengthen a previous council-approved ordinance that seeks more transparency in labor negotiations.

Detractors argue that Costa Mesa doesn't need a charter — no study was done to prove that it does — and that it would be redundant: Much of what's in the charter proposal is already in city law.

They also contend that the Righeimer-led council majority should not have sought a second charter after Measure V's sound defeat.

The council will consider a variety of proposed changes to the draft charter that could codify more features of City Hall governance.

One proposed addition is a rule that keeps council member compensation in accordance with state law. Another says council members cannot be eligible for city employment until at least two years after they leave the council.

The new charter would also contain the following requirements for those running for council: being a U.S. citizen, registered to vote, at least 18 years old and a resident of Costa Mesa at least 15 days before the election and throughout the council term.

The charter does not change the council's setup or term limits: five members who can serve two four-year terms.

Placing a charter on November's ballot could cost $12,880, out of a total election cost of $78,500 to $97,500, according to city staff. Citywide mailings about the charter proposal in September and October would also cost about $8,400 each, staff wrote.

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Security measures

City staff are proposing that the council approve measures to add security cameras at five city facilities: the Joann Street bicycle trail, senior center, Volcom Skate Park, Corporation Yard and Fairview Park.

The cameras, which would have 360-degree views and digital recording capabilities, are estimated to cost $150,000 to $250,000. The vendor would be chosen through a competitive bidding process, according to city staff.

Staff said that the cameras could prevent graffiti along the bike trail. They could also "greatly enhance the safety and security" of the senior center, skate park and Fairview Park, staff wrote.

City staff said the cameras approved last year for Lions Park — known as a homeless haven — have been successful and have not elicited complaints.