Grover Beach moves forward on drafting a city charter

clambert@thetribunenews.comJanuary 21, 2014 

Grover Beach City Hall

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

The Grover Beach City Council decided Tuesday to have its staff draft a proposed city charter that will be reviewed at a series of public workshops and meetings, rather than having a citizen's committee author the work.

A public workshop will likely be held in March to review the draft charter. Before city leaders could place it on the November ballot, the council would need to hold at least three public hearings.

Last month, a citizen's review committee recommended that Grover Beach once again ask voters to change the city from a general law to a charter city, allowing it to draft its own procedures on elections, bidding for contracts and other issues.

City officials said they believe a charter would give them more local control and help insulate them from state money grabs.

However, union members have balked at one possible inclusion in the charter: the potential for the city to exempt itself from paying the prevailing wage to workers on construction projects when using only local funds.

State law defines the prevailing wage as the rate within the local labor market that most workers in a particular trade are paid. 

A past effort to pass a city charter in 2012 failed by four votes in a citywide election.

On Tuesday, the council decided that the city staff could draft a new charter, incorporating recommendations made by the citizen's committee in December. The city had solicited applications from residents interested in serving on a drafting committee, but received just four letters. Three of the individuals, including Councilman Bill Nicolls, had served on the citizen review committee.

One Grover Beach resident expressed concern with revisiting the idea of a city charter.

"If something has been voted on and it's been decided, people really don't like voting on it again," Kay Albertson said. "Why are we wasting time and money doing this over and over again?"

That comment resonated with Councilman Glenn Marshall, who stressed that the city needs to have strong public outreach before the measure goes to voters.

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