Council begins to set future priorities, adds extra quarterly meeting

DEL MAR — At the request of Councilman Dave Druker, the city will hold a third monthly meeting once a quarter for community presentations, a review of council priorities, council member reports on local and regional committees and other nonaction items.

The first of these meetings is tentatively scheduled for April 10 and will include at least one speaker who will address railroad track and bluff issues.

The additional meeting, announced Feb. 6, was approved during a special two-day workshop held the first weekend of this month at L’Auberge Del Mar.

Druker, who served as a councilman from April 1996 to December 2008, was reelected this past November.

After being sworn in Dec. 12, he suggested holding a third meeting every month, something the city once did.

“The reason years ago that it was canceled was because we were in somewhat of a financial crisis,” Druker said at that meeting.

“I think at this point it’s extremely important … that we have more and more time to deliberate on these major issues that are coming aboard and so that we can also have an agenda where we can do one major issue per meeting rather than have to do two, three major issues and then have presentations and then have council liaison reports,” he added.

“I think it also would be a time for us to talk about the City Hall, again so that it’s not time-certain and we’re forced to either stop a discussion or have a quick discussion about that because there’s so many other topics on the agenda,” Druker said.

The extra meeting could also include water board updates, which at times can take 30 minutes or more, Red Ribbon Week acknowledgments and reports from North County Transit District or the San Diego Association of Governments, he added.

San Diego’s smallest city, Del Mar is currently working on several major projects, such as potential short-term rental regulations, developing a master plan for the Shores property and building a new civic center complex, to name a few.

As a result, many meetings during the past few years have ended close to 11 p.m. or later.

In fact, the Feb. 6 meeting included nearly three hours of public testimony and council discussion on a proposal to eliminate traffic lanes in the south end of the city.

In December Mayor Terry Sinnott said he did not support an additional monthly meeting.

“There’s only so much work we can put through the eye of the needle as far as staff is concerned,” Sinnott said. “It’s not going to allow staff the time to put it together properly.”

Druker said the extra gathering would be more council- and committee-driven.

“Obviously they’ve (staff) got to be here … but it really is for us so that we can discuss issues of import and be helping to make these policy decisions,” he said. “If there’s nothing to discuss … we cancel the meeting.”

According to the Feb. 6 staff report there was consensus during the two-day workshop to have an extra meeting quarterly. Council members also discussed a variety of community issues and identified priorities through June 2019.

Beginning next month, the City Council agenda packet will be distributed on the Tuesday prior to the Monday meeting.

It is currently disseminated late on Thursdays.

The earlier distribution will give the community and council members more time to review reports before each meeting.

Additionally, starting with the packet for the next meeting Feb. 21, additional information will be provided about planned future agenda items so council members can comment and provide direction.

Council members also volunteered to work on a variety of assignments, including a review of the community plan, an election ethics policy and updating the council policy book, with a focus on how to handle large groups at council meetings.

Councilwoman Ellie Haviland will follow up with the Sustainability Advisory Board for feedback on prioritization of Climate Action Plan initiatives.

Priority items for future consideration include a review of employee pensions, the red-light camera program, drought guidelines and the reclaimed and recycled water use policy.

There will also be an evaluation of dog hours on North Beach, and an oversight committee will be created to develop a process for using funds from the recently passed sales tax increase.

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