Manteca may switch to individual council members appointing Planning Commission members in tandem with the move to district City Council elections.
“It’s a question of equal representation throughout the community regardless of where people live,” said Councilman Gary Singh who advocated for the proposal. “You don’t need everyone looking at community issues through the same lens.”
There was council consensus Tuesday to have staff move forward with putting together a proposal for council to consider when it comes to individual council members appointing a commission member that also would need to reside in the same district as the council member that appoints them.
Singh noted that as things stand now all five commission members could end up residing in the same area of the community.
He also noted such an approach would mean the commission — should an incumbent be defeated for re-election — would be refreshed with commission members more in line with how the new council member views planning issues.
Singh said just like with the council going to districts it would create a commission that serves and looks out for the community as a whole but is also focused on the unique nuances such as traffic issues that impact the neighborhoods within envisioned council districts.
Under Singh’s take, the mayor would appoint a member and the alternate from anywhere within the city. And if a commission member resigns, the council member that appointed them would name their replacement.
Currently the mayor recommends appointees and the council then votes them up or down.
And while the commission isn’t a policy making body the dynamics of how things work makes them the second most prominent “political body” in city government. Two of the current council members — Singh and Jose Nuño – are former planning commission members.
It is not clear when staff will be able to bring back a formal proposal regarding commission appointments for the council to consider. Singh, though, would like to see it go into effect starting after the November 2022 election when nthe first two council seats will be determined by district voting as opposed to citywide voting.
The district planning commission system by being more attuned to specific neighborhood issues that growth can impact significantly could also address growing concerns regarding “environmental justice” to make sure existing residents aren’t after thoughts when it comes to development impacts.
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