Council votes to shrink youth commission

ENCINITAS — Sometimes, bigger isn’t always better.

This is what the Encinitas City Council decided Aug. 23 about its youth commission, a group whose membership rolls the council raised just three years ago.

The council voted to scale back the group’s future size from a maximum 20 members to 11 members based on city staff’s recommendation that the large group wasn’t functioning as efficiently as it could.

Staff’s recommendation was one of several aimed at reforming the group, which had failed over the past three years to deliver its annual project, the signature task for the group composed of middle school and high school students across the city.

Staff also recommended — and the council approved — that the city encourage participation from a wider range of schools, require the members to commit to five hours of commission work per month and eliminate the annual project in favor of having the commission contribute to the city’s strategic plan initiatives.

“Staff’s opinion is that we will have a more workable commission” with fewer members, Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath said.

Mark Muir voted against the proposal. In 2014, Muir and the previous council — which included current Councilman Tony Kranz — unanimously voted to accept all 14 applicants to the commission because they did not want to turn away any of the youth.

Since then, the commission has had 14, 10, 17 and 12 members.

City staff surveyed several cities and found that most cities around Encinitas’ size had no more than 15 members on their youth panels.

Muir, however, argued that having fewer members decreased the likelihood of diversifying the board.

“If you want to increase diversification, you don’t limit the number of participants,” Muir said.

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