OCEANSIDE — City Council discussion on approving the bylaws of the Integrated Waste Commission ended with a council recommendation to consolidate the Integrated Waste Commission with the Utilities Commission on Aug. 21.The Integrated Waste Commission advises City Council on waste disposal, transfer, management and reduction.
New responsibilities the council voted down in favor of consolidating the commission with the Utilities Commission include advising City Council on green waste programs, construction waste programs, the zero waste plan and environmental education.
Councilman Jack Feller questioned the need for the Integrated Waste Commission and the city’s push for zero waste.
“We’ve made more than enough of an effort,” Feller said. “What’s required of us?”
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said reducing waste is more than meeting the letter of the law.
“Reducing waste makes our city better,” Sanchez said. “Why would we ever think of dropping this?”
Sanchez did not give a name of a commissioner, but said it looks like Feller’s recommendation is “going after certain people who are on the commission.”
“It’s unethical and wrong,” Sanchez said.
Feller said he is not going after anyone on the commissions, but giving consideration to staff’s time.
“Colleen (Foster, management analyst of solid waste and recycling) is doing everything – partnerships between the city and school district, the city and waste hauler,” Feller said. “This is not an attack on people, it’s a way to clear up some of Colleen’s time.”
Councilman Jerry Kern recommended the Integrated Waste Commission be consolidated with the Utilities Commission, that advises City Council on the utility budget, capital improvements, water conservation plan, storm drains plan, water fees, sewage spillage and breaks, and support on opposition to the Gregory Canyon Landfill.
“All programs will continue to be implemented,” Kern said. “It’s better for staff if they don’t have to attend another committee. We’re streamlining government, everything comes to one commission.”
Presently there are seven volunteer members on the Integrated Waste Commission and seven on the Utilities Commission.
Sanchez voiced concern that consolidating the commissions will diminish public input in matters that include city budgets and contracts.
She added less citizen involvement will raise more questions from residents and end up taking additional staff time to answer those questions.
“It ensures there’s a public eye to this,” Sanchez said. “Cutting out public input isn’t going to decrease staff time it’s going to increase it.”
Mayor Jim Wood acknowledged that the city has already reduced its commissions and committees from 27 to 16, and in the process received complaints from residents.
“We’re probably best to get rid of all commissions, they’re wasting staff’s time — that’s what the voting majority is saying here,” Wood said.
Feller said consolidating the commissions would still allow input from residents.
“People will still have a voice,” Feller said.
City Council voted 2-3 on the Integrated Waste Commission bylaws, with no votes from Kern, Felien and Feller.
Then City Council voted 3-2 on staff returning with recommendations to consolidate the Integrated Waste Commission and Utilities Commission, with no votes from Wood and Sanchez.