Overview of Advisory to the City Council

Section 405 of the City Charter specifies that "the City Council shall establish such boards, commissions, and committees as are deemed necessary for the orderly functioning of the City. All such boards, commissions, and committees shall report directly to the City Council."

According to Municipal Code Chapter 2.100, all advisory boards and commissions shall be established by ordinance. Committees may be established by resolution and are sometimes established by a City Council minute action. The enabling document usually outlines the manner of appointment, term of office, powers and duties, and where applicable the duration of the advisory body. (Resolution 3124-Dec. 1991).

The City of Huntington Beach has a number of advisory bodies and active citizen groups. (See Exhibit A to this Chapter.) The goals and objectives of these groups vary depending on their mandate from the City Council. In general, the following definitions are used in describing the various possible citizen groups.

H.B. Municipal Code Chapter 2.100 defines a committee as a body of members appointed on an ad hoc basis to advise the City Council on particular matters. The Human Relations Task Force and the Childrens' Needs Task Force function as standing citizen committees appointed by the City Council.

Board - A body of members appointed to serve in a continuing advisory capacity to the City Council, except for such boards which have decision making authority pursuant to the particular establishing ordinance creating such board (H.B. Municipal Code Chapter 2.100). An example is the Library Board.

Commission = A body of members which may have decision making authority in those activities delegated to them by the City Council (H.B. Municipal Code 2.100). Examples of this are the Planning Commission and the Community Services Commission.

Task Force - no formal definition currently exists. However, a task force is typically formed to address a specific issue in the community. Membership can be open as in the Oak View Task Force or by appointment as with the Childrens’ Needs Task Force and the Human Relations Task Force.

Operating Policy for Boards and Commissions

Chapter 2.100 of the Municipal Code stipulates the current general operating policies for all boards and commissions. As defined in Chapter 2.100, all members of boards and commissions shall be residents and electors of the city of Huntington Beach and the United States.

Chapter 2.100 also stipulates that no person shall serve on more than one board or commission at any one time and that no person shall serve more than two consecutive terms on any one board or commission. However, the City Attorney's Office has opined that a resident may serving on a board or commission may also serve on a task force without violating this code.

Further details regarding the city’s operating policy for boards and commissions is contained in the noted references.

Advisory Body Descriptions

Boards, Commissions, Task Forces

There are currently 17 standing citizen boards, commissions, or task forces whose members are appointed to four-year terms by the City Council. Each year (typically at the 2nd meeting in December), City Council liaisons are assigned to these bodies by the Mayor with approval of the City Council. These are:

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Allied Arts Board Historic Resources Board
Children's Needs Task Force Investment Board
Citizens Participation Advisory Board Library Board
Community Services Commission Mobile Home Advisory Board
Design Review Board Personnel Commission
Environmental Board Planning Commission
Finance Board Public Works Commission
Fourth of July Executive Board Youth Board
Human Relations Task Force

Each of these bodies is subject to the regulations of the Ralph M. Brown Act. All of these bodies with the exception of those appointed by individual Council Members (the Finance Board, the Investment Advisory Board, and the Planning Commission) are also subject to the Maddy Act (California Government Code Section 54970-54974). The Maddy Act requires that all seats that are scheduled to expire in the upcoming year be posted on an annual listing. This Act also regulates the posting requirements for unscheduled vacancies that occur throughout the year.

Other City Citizen Committees

In addition to the above referenced formal boards and commissions, from time-to-time the City Council will create a citizen committee or task force. These differ from those above in that there are no formalized terms for the citizens who serve on them. Citizen committees are defined as having a specific, narrow focus and an open membership. They should also be limited in duration based on need (Resolution 99-83).

Community Groups

Community Groups are generally those that have an association with the City, but whose members are not appointed by the City Council. These include the following:

  • Huntington Beach Council on Aging
  • Neighborhood Watch
  • Sister City Association
  • The Art Center Foundation
  • Project Self-Sufficiency Foundation
  • 3-1 Marine Support] Committee
  • Oak View Task Force

City Council Liaison Selection Process

City Council Resolution No. 99-83 established a policy and process for the appointment of council liaisons to advisory bodies to the City Council, standing council committees, ad hoc council committees, citizen committees, and city appointments to external agencies and organizations. This policy was developed by a City Council ad hoc committee. The process is outlined below:

All assignments will occur on an annual basis, no later than the first meeting in January after the appointment of the new Mayor.

The Mayor or Mayor-to-be will send out a memo requesting that each council member submit a prioritized list of those assignments that are of interest to them.

The Mayor will utilize these lists to match to the best of his/her ability the requested assignments while attempting to equitably balance the distribution of assignments.

A preliminary listing will be distributed to all council members by the Mayor at least one week prior to the date that the listing will be approved by the City Council.

During this one-week period, each City Council Member will be responsible for conveying to the Mayor any requests for changes in assignments.

The Mayor will make every effort to accommodate these requests, including assigning up to three members of the City Council, but no more, when more than two members have indicated that a specific assignment is a high priority.

After the one-week review period, the list will be submitted to the City Council at the next regular meeting for approval. As a general rule, this should occur at the 2nd City Council meeting in December.

Role of a City Council Liaison

City Council Resolution No. 99-84 established a policy regarding the role of council liaisons serving on citizen commissions, boards, and committees. This policy was also developed by a Council ad hoc committee. A summary of the approved resolution is provided below.

Council liaisons should notify each advisory body that they may not be in attendance at every meeting, and that meetings should not be scheduled around the Council Liaison’s schedule.

City Council liaisons should maintain a passive role at all meetings, serving only in an advisory capacity and as a bridge between the specific advisory body and the City Council.

Council Liaisons should respond to questions when asked, but should not direct the advisory body towards specific actions or activities.

Council Liaisons should not impact the outcome of a decision or a vote.

Citizen Appointment Selection Process

Some advisory bodies have sever members appointed individually by each of the seven city council members. These are:

  • The Planning Commission
  • The Finance Board, and
  • The Investment Board

The other boards, commissions, and committees vary in size with appointments being recommended by the Council Liaisons to that body but with approval by the City Council at a City Council meeting. Council Liaisons are responsible for reviewing applications for the advisory bodies to which they are assigned and providing recommendation to the City Council. At the discretion of the Council Liaisons, interviews of the applicants may be conducted.

City Council Committees

In addition to the citizen advisory bodies, there are committees of City Council members. Council committees are formed by a vote of the City Council during a City Council meeting in order to more fully study or discuss a specific issue or area of interest. Appointments to the committee are typically made by the Mayor, based on the subject matter and expressed interest of the City Council Members.

Two types of council committees exist, "standing" or "ad hoc." Resolution 99-83 defines the differences as follows:

Standing Council Committee - A standing committee of the Council created by an action of Council in response to an ongoing issue. These committees are typically comprised of three Council Members with staff support, and they are subject to the Brown Act. Standing council committees are formed around a continuing matter of interest and may meet on an regular basis. Examples of a Standing Council Committee are the Beautification, Landscape, & Trees Committee and the Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Ad Hoc Council Committee - A temporary committee of the Council created by an action of Council in response to an issue that is limited in scope and duration. These committees are also typically comprised of three Council Members and staff support person(s). Ad hoc council committees are formed for the purpose of addressing a specific action or item. Normally, an ad hoc committee would meet only a few times before returning to the full City Council with their recommendation. A recent example of this was the Council Campaign Contribution Committee

Listed below are the Council committees as of May 2010. Currently, all of these committees are considered "standing" committees since they have a continuing subject matter jurisdiction as defined in Section 54952 (b) of the Brown Act and are the subject of ongoing issues as defined by Resolution 99-83.

  • The Beautification, Landscape, and Tree (BLT) Committee
  • Communications Committee
  • Economic Development Committee
  • Intergovernmental Relations Committee
  • Santa Ana River & Parkway Committee
  • School Districts Committee
  • Southeast Area Committee
  • Strategic Plan Committee

Formation of New Committees and City Council Liaisons

Throughout the year, issues may develop which require the formation of a new Council committee. New committees must be approved by the City Council. At the time of formation, the Mayor may appoint no more than three City Council Members and identify whether the group is to be ad hoc or standing.

Related Resource Material:

1. Municipal Code 2.100 Operating Policy for City Boards & Commissions
2. Resolution 99-83 - Appointment of a Council Liaison
3. Resolution 99-84 - Role of a Council Liaison
4. Maddy Act Listing - 2010
5. Administrative Regulation 111 - Procedures for Filling a Vacancy on an Advisory Body
6. Board Application Form
7. City Council Committee Description
8. Community Groups witih City staff assigned.
9. Council Committees Liaison List