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Charter Reform Discussion Scheduled to Continue at Monday’s Council Meeting

Published on Friday, September 15, 2023 | 5:10 am

Charter Reform will return to the City Council on Monday when Councilmembers consider a list of potential items for charter reform.

Last week, the City Council identified proposed topics for possible Charter study discussions to be conducted by a Charter study task force during its meeting on Monday. 

High on the list was term limits for local elected officials. 

Other possible Charter amendment topics related to City Council governance include City Council vacancy appointment process and ability to call special election to fill an unanticipated Council vacancy, City Council term limits, Vice mayor appointment timing and term and the timing of mayoral election in relation to Council District elections. 

City staff has also raised the possibility of revising the Charter language related to the annual Light and Power Fund transfer to the General Fund to use current accounting terminology, considering increases to procurement limits which do not require City Council approval and making clean-up/make corrections to the City Charter.

Also not included on the list of topics are the policy issues related to campaign finance and lobbyist registration that have previously been mentioned in Council discussions. 

The City Charter is a legal document that outlines the organization, powers, functions, and essential procedures of the City’s government. It serves as the city’s constitution and defines the relationship between the city government and its residents. 

The Charter establishes the framework for the city’s governance and provides the legal basis for the city’s operations.

Pasadena’s Charter was passed in 1901 and any changes to it must be submitted to the voters for approval.

The City has not had substantive Charter reform since the 1990s. In that case, voters agreed the mayor should be chosen by an election of the people. 

This past February, the City Council unanimously approved a recommendation to start a Charter study review process and the formation of a Charter study task force that will study potential amendments and provide the City Council with recommendations on Charter amendments. 

In August 2022, the City Council expressed interest in reviewing the city’s Charter for possible amendments to address the City Council’s appointment process due to vacancy. In December, there was a request to review the role of the Vice Mayor.

The City Council agreed that the governance topics would be discussed by a Charter study task force while the other topics suggested by city staff would be studied by City Council committees.

Members of the task force are targeted to be appointed in October 2023. 

The task force will review issues and approve recommendations for City Council consideration from November 2023 through May 2024. It will submit its final report to the City Council by May or June 2024.

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