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Agenda Item H2 - Commissions and Committees

From: domainremoved <Jen>
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2019 17:41:15 -0800

Dear City Council Members,

Agenda Item H2 brings huge opportunities. Your commissions and committees
contain some of the most invested, engaged and informed Menlo Park
residents in town.* When properly utilized as part of an ongoing feedback
loop with the community and Council, commissions and committees can triage
proposals, ask critical questions and provide valuable expertise and
recommendations. The overall goal of a Commission/Committee Policy should
therefore be, how to maximize their effectiveness to help you, Council, and
the community at large. Based on this perspective, I have the following

   - Scheduling - It's great that you are moving the Housing Commission and
   the Complete Streets Commissions to different nights.
   - Reporting to Council - It makes a lot of sense to review annual work
   plans instead of 2-year work plans. However, I am concerned about having
   commissions/committees only report to Council once a year (from three times
   a year). At a minimum, this reporting should occur twice a year. It is
   important that the work of the commissions and committees be aligned with
   the City Council, and without the feedback loop, there is a risk of the
   appointed and elected bodies being out of sync. If the current reporting of
   commissions/committees is not serving you well, perhaps you can provide
   direction on what type of reporting would be beneficial.
   - City Council Liaisons - I know that City Council members serve on many
   subcommittees, regional committees and have many responsibilities. However,
   to ensure that the commissions/committees are following the will of the
   Council, it is extremely important that the assigned City Council liaison
   is engaged with his/her designated commission/committee. You may want to
   consider a policy about the attendance of and responsibilities expected of
   the City Council representative.
   - Minutes/Recordings/Votes - While the results of Planning Commission
   meetings are well documented (minutes, newspaper coverage, recordings,
   future staff reports, etc.), some of the other business taking place before
   different commissions and committees can happen beyond the reach of most
   residents. Very few meetings are recorded and minutes can take months to be
   published (I'm not faulting staff, I realize that there are limited
   resources.). I would encourage you to consider what would help you and our
   community in this area, instead of just relying on legal requirements and
   minimum standards.
   - Types of Commissions/Committees - Please ask yourselves if the
   existing appointed bodies are a good use of resources. For example, would a
   Ethics Commission or an Arts Commission better serve residents than a
   Sister City Commission? What will have a greater impact on the lives of

In closing, I am grateful that this item is on the agenda, but I'm not sure
if the Consent Calendar is the proper place for it. I hope you take this
opportunity to step back and look at this topic from a more strategic

Thank you for your consideration.


*Full disclosure: I'm on the TMP-OOC, but I'm speaking for myself, and not
necessarily implying that I'm part of the above mentioned group of stellar
*Jen Wolosin*
Received on Mon Jan 28 2019 - 17:37:57 PST

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