Mayoral Bottleneck Keeps Slowing Down Council Committee | Voice of San Diego

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Mayoral Bottleneck Keeps Slowing Down Council Committee

The City Council’s land use and housing committee has twice canceled meetings for having too few items for discussion.

 

It’s been a slow 2013 for the San Diego City Council’s land use and housing committee.

The committee was supposed to convene Wednesday, but for the second time this year was forced to cancel a regularly scheduled meeting.

In both instances, the meetings were canceled because there wasn’t enough business to fill up an agenda — the result of a bottleneck created by a policy Mayor Bob Filner enacted in a Dec. 21 memo to the council.

In it, he wrote that he or someone in his administration needs to sign off on all items that come from a city department before they can be docketed by the council or one of its committees.

Last month, U-T San Diego reported the council has had its lightest workload in decades during the early stages of Mayor Bob Filner’s tenure, noting that an entire council meeting and the January land use committee meeting were canceled for having too few items for discussion.

Filner’s policy means if the public works and engineering department wants to suggest the council authorizes $60,000 to repair a street bluff, it needs Filner’s OK first.

“I feel it is important that requests from my administration for docketing on the council or committee agendas actually reflect the work product of my administration,” Filner wrote.

The land use and housing committee canceled its first meeting of the year on Jan. 9. It held a meeting in February, then canceled Wednesday’s meeting. It’s next scheduled to meet on March 27.

One item currently awaiting Filner’s approval before it can be finalized: funding for a two-lane overpass above State Route 56 that is supposed to alleviate traffic in Torrey Highlands and increase access to a school and neighborhood park.

The project was included in the area’s public facilities projects list, with money to pay for it provided by assessments charged to developers.

The Torrey Highlands community planning group decided to expedite completing the project, and in October the land use and housing committee unanimously voted to reimburse the developer for the project’s costs, sending the item ahead for full council approval.

But since reimbursement agreements are handled by the development services department, the item needs the mayor’s signature before the council can put it on the docket.

So for now, the project is in bureaucratic limbo, awaiting mayoral approval.

Filner didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The only items that can be docketed without mayoral approval are those that originate in a council office, the city attorney’s office or from an outside agency.

In the February land use committee meeting, members accepted four reports that had been given the go-ahead by Filner, and approved a draft resolution to fund bicycle-related infrastructure that originated in Councilwoman Lorie Zapf’s office, chair of the committee, allowing it to bypass mayoral approval. The council approved the ordinance this week.

Committee staff anticipates having enough business that it won’t need to cancel the scheduled March 27 meeting, according to Alex Bell, Zapf’s communications director. 

That agenda is expected to include a report on a draft ordinance that would tighten parking rules for oversized vehicles like RVs and boats on city streets, which originated in Councilman Kevin Faulconer’s office, not a city department.

The committee agenda might also include a discussion to amend the land development code outlining regulations for city breweries. That is, if Filner OKs it first.

I’m Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you’d like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529 and follow me on Twitter:

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