Jeff Barnouw | Amphitheatre Drive
On June 15, meeting virtually, the Del Mar City Council voted 3-2 to consider options for restarting committee meetings that have been on hold for some months since the local onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic. City staff recommended that all committees other than Planning Commission, Design Review Board, and Finance committee be considered non-essential, and proposed cancelling their meetings through the 2020-21 fiscal year. The reason given was the staff time required to facilitate the meetings. This was also the reason given by Deputy Mayor Gaasterland and Councilmember Druker for opposing the idea of finding a way to let the advisory committees meet.
This suspension is analogous to the restrictive format of the virtual meetings of the Council and DRB which, until recently, had not taken full advantage of the capacity of Zoom, so that present participation was unnecessarily restricted to the principals of each hearing, with the public able only to submit red dot letters before each session. This was pointed out in a red dot letter by Art Olson “at” the May 18 City Council meeting, which I seconded in a red dot letter to the DRB a week later. This restriction significantly hampered the ability of neighbors to make their views clear, since they could not respond to what was going on in the virtual meetings. As of July 1 the public is able to make comments during the meetings of the City Council, Planning Commission and DRB.
The non-essential committees have in fact numerous ongoing functions that cumulatively are essential to having a civic life. I am on the Lagoon Committee. Ellen Breen, chair of that Committee, reports that many members have expressed eagerness to resume meeting. A “Blue Carbon” subcommittee, consisting of Carol Kerridge, Geoff Criqui, Bill Michalsky, and Brad Allison, has continued its work during the shutdown. See the article on Blue Carbon by Geoff Criqui in this issue, page 16.