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Santa Monica City Council Approves Changes to Boards and Commissions Following Public Process

April 28, 2021 10:46 AM

Santa Monica City Council Approves Changes to Boards and Commissions Following Public Process

At its meeting last night, the City Council approved changes to Santa Monica’s Boards, Commissions, and Task Forces to increase effectiveness, attract diverse representation from the Santa Monica community, and align Board and Commission activities with departmental workplans. Council’s adopted changes come after a Community Working Group spent the past year reviewing the bylaws and purview of Santa Monica’s advisory bodies and formulating recommendations, which Council considered as it approved changes. Council will weigh in on streamlining some advisory bodies to increase effectiveness at a later meeting.

“Santa Monica is fortunate to have deeply knowledgeable and dedicated residents who participate in boards and commissions, contributing to a caring and thriving community for all people,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kristin McCowan. “It’s important to regularly evaluate where we are and where we want to go and that’s what this action signals – we want more participation and more diverse participants. We encourage more voices to consider advisory bodies as a meaningful way to get involved.” 

Council provided staff with directions regarding boards and commissions that included the following:

  • Year-end appointments should be moved to June to align with annual appointments. Required trainings for the year should be completed within three months of appointment.
  • Term limits should remain the same, allowing members to serve two consecutive terms and request a third term from the City Council.  Members who term out must wait one year before applying to another board or commission. Members of boards meeting monthly who have two consecutive unexcused absences out of six consecutive meetings should automatically vacate their seat.
  • Officers should be elected annually and should have one- or two-year terms. Elections of officers should take place after the annual appointments.
  • Budgets for Boards and Commissions should be part of department budgets.
  • All boards, commissions, and task forces should produce an annual workplan to set priorities for the year, which should align with the department’s workplan and account for any state / county / or city-mandated required operations. The body must also provide an annual review of progress against the workplan.
  • All boards, commissions, and task forces should adopt the same order of business in their agendas.
  • Attendance requirements should be included in the bylaws, should be consistent, and should clarify what is considered an excused versus unexcused absence.
  • Accommodation language should be included in the bylaw template after consultation with the Disabilities Commission.
  • The latest start time for any meeting should be 7 p.m., absent extraordinary circumstances.
  • Increase community awareness of boards and commissions to attract more diverse representation, including through social media, community and cultural events, community-based meetings, and specific outreach to potential members between the ages of 18-29.
  • Review all advisory bodies every five years and consider updating board and commission applications every five years.
  • Consider training sessions, available to both Commissioners and the general public, on running meetings, participating during meetings, parliamentary procedure, and implicit bias.

Council also directed staff to return with an ordinance to convert the Task Force on the Environment to a permanent commission—the Commission on Sustainability and the Environment—with its goals to include environmental justice and with the same term limits and bylaws as other advisory bodies. 

Council also directed the City Attorney to explore the legality of assigning one Councilmember to each advisory body as a liaison and directed that Commissions should continue quarterly meetings though December 2021, with the exception that charter-based Commissions, adjudicatory bodies, and advisory bodies with sufficient staffing (including the Housing Commission) may meet more frequently as necessary.  

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




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