City Council will hold a comprehensive review of City boards, commissions and task forces this Tuesday during a discussion that may conclude with the consolidation of more than one commission.

Santa Monica’s Boards and Commissions are a valuable opportunity for residents and subject matter experts to examine important issues facing the community, engage the community, and work with staff to bring policy and program recommendations to Council, a recently released staff report states. “These Boards and Commissions have developed as needs arose over time and many vary widely in practice as it relates to meeting schedules, agendas, and workplans; they also require dedicated staff time, a resource that was significantly depleted by the restructuring conducted in 2020 to address budget impacts from COVID-19.”

Even prior to COVID-19, however, Council had expressed an interest in ensuring the City’s boards and commissions were working more effectively, which is why Council formed a Community Working Group back in 2019 that was tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of the boards, commissions and task forces.

In the time since, CWG has been hard at work meeting with the community and reviewing various records relating to attendance, financial support and appointment processes, the report states, mentioning the City Clerk and CWG used this input to craft a number of recommendations relating to how the City can make the Boards and Commissions more effective, attract more diverse representation among members, and align Board and Commission activities with departmental workplans developed in response to the Council approved budget.

This week, Council will delve into the recommendations during a discussion that could result in city leaders directing staff to return with an ordinance that would convert the Environmental Task Force into a permanent commission named the Commission on Sustainability and the Environment. Council could also consolidate other commissions, like the Commission on the Senior Community, Commission on the Status of Women, Disabilities Commission, and the Social Services Commission, into a single commission named the Human Services and Equity Commission, according to the staff report. Other recommendations relate to appointment methodology, term limits and training.

“Finally, due to the continuing concerns of staffing shortages as a result of department restructuring due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report concludes, “staff recommends that Council allow boards and commissions to continue meeting quarterly, and maintain self-sufficiency with minimal department staff support, through the end of calendar year 2021 or until the end of fiscal year 2021-22.”

For a full list of recommendations or to see the entire Council agenda, residents can visit bit.ly/2QjSwMH.

Brennon@smdp.com