August 3, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica May Ban Lobbyists From Serving on Boards and Commissions

City Council instructs staff to draft ordinance to bar paid policy advocates from serving on board, commissions, task forces  

By Sam Catanzaro

Santa Monica may ban lobbyists from serving on City boards and commissions. 

On July 13, Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved a motion by Councilmembers Phil Brock and Christine Parra that instructs staff to create a formal definition of a lobbyist and then prohibit such individuals from serving on City boards, commissions and task forces. Current City law requires paid lobbyists to disclose their clients and compensation with the City. 

“Our city government functions to serve the interests of all citizens,” Brock said during the meeting. “This is another way to make sure that everything that is done in our city is forthright and above board and that the residents of the city have the right to influence our Council, influence their boards and commissions, but people who are paid do not have the same right.”

While the motion passed unanimously, there was some debate as to how encompassing the legislation should be. Mayor Sue Himmelrich raised concern about part of the Beverly Hills ordinance which considers unpaid individuals who raise over $5,000 for a cause as a lobbyist. 

“As I read the Beverly Hills ordinance, I think it is a much larger net that could capture some of our advocates here who may raise money or do other things for various causes,” Himmelrich said. 

Brock responded by stating he does not want the future legislation to ban such people from serving on boards, commissions and task forces in Santa Monica. 

Councilmember Kristen McCowan made the suggestion of allowing paid lobbyists to serve on City boards and commissions if the subject matter is different from their area of work. 

“These are sometimes some of our best policy experts,” McCowan said. “They are still residents, they still care about the city and they bring an expertise I think that might actually be beneficial to a commission that isn’t what they are paid to do.” 

Brock, however, opposed this suggestion, arguing that being on a board or commission gives an individual increased access to City staff across all departments. 

“I was a city commissioner for 18 years almost in the City of Santa Monica. I knew that I had more access as a City commissioner to staff than I would have if I was just a citizen who was not part of City Hall. Now even though I was a volunteer, if I needed something at Planning or wanted to talk to someone in Community and Cultural Services or another department, I was able to do that by nature of being a commissioner,” Brock said. “I don’t want an Arts Commissioner walking into Planning and walking by and say ‘let’s talk about this project,’ because they are already a lobbyist. I believe that we have enough residents who want to be on commissions and boards in the city. We don’t have a paucity of participation.”

Three members of the public called in during the meeting, all in support of the proposed ban, which is modeled after an ordinance in place in Beverly Hills. Among the residents who called in was Marc Verville, who made the case that any ban would only be effective if properly enforced. 

“Designing and implementing radical transparency in the City’s decision making process is long overdue. The financial stakes get high every year, and the importance of transparency grows exponentially,” Verville said. “The most stringent rules are meaningless if they are not enforced. Discretion must be radically minimized with the letter of the ordinance driving the review and, if necessary, enforcement action.” 

Related Posts

Library Director Patty Wong to Leave Santa Monica

July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL) Director Patty Wong announced recently that she will leave Santa Monica to take on the...

City Council Prioritizes Housing for Historically Displaced Households

July 28, 2021

July 28, 2021

At its meeting on July 13, Santa Monica City Council made changes to Santa Monica’s Affordable Housing Production Program and...

Homeless Man Charged with Hate Crime in Assault of Korean Woman in Santa Monica

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Melvin Taylor faces charges in connection to July 23 incident By Sam Catanzaro Hate crime charges have been filed against...

Homeless Advocate Arrested Near Shelter on Suspicion of Dealing Drugs, Claims no Wrongdoing

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

65-year-old Garry Featherstone accused of selling meth, PCP By Sam Catanzaro A self-described homeless outreach advocate was recently arrested near...

Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa Monica: Santa Monica Beat – July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa...

Two Arrested for Main Street Bike Shop Burglary

July 23, 2021

July 23, 2021

Two suspects were arrested for the burglary of a Main Street bike store after the owner witnessed the crime via...

Council Selects Berkeley Deputy City Manager to Helm Santa Monica

July 23, 2021

July 23, 2021

David White to be Santa Monica’s next City Manager starting in October  By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica City Council has...

Ocean Park Library Set to Reopen

July 20, 2021

July 20, 2021

New self-service hours begin July 28 By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Public Library’s Ocean Park Branch is set to...

Police Tase Suspect Following Santa Monica Beach Stabbing

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

32-year-old man arrested Sunday evening on Santa Monica Beach, suffers head injuries in arrest By Sam Catanzaro As part of...

Santa Monica Beat: Santa Monica Beat – July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Serial Killer Arrested by SMPD Sentenced to Death * New Grants...

Water Near Santa Monica Pier Remains Questionable as Beach Closures Lifted Following Sewage Discharge

July 15, 2021

July 15, 2021

17 million gallons of raw sewage discharged from Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant Sunday Night By Sam Catanzaro Beach closures have...

Edify TV: Local Cafe Supporting Foster Youths

July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

La La Land Kind Cafe recently opened its first California location in Santa Monica, delivering not only unique coffee and...