City Council: CDBG citizen review committee to be appointed

February 09, 2001
Santa Paula City Council

Five citizens will review Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) applications after the City Council agreed to form an advisory committee at the Feb. 5 meeting.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesFive citizens will review Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) applications after the City Council agreed to form an advisory committee at the Feb. 5 meeting.The appointments - one each per council member - will be have to be done in a hurry to meet CDBG deadlines; whether or not such a committee would fall under Brown Act open meeting guidelines, which would require posting and a legal notice in advance of such a meeting, also has to be determined.Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa had requested that the item be placed on the agenda after addressing the formation of such a committee last year.Building & Safety Director Stephen Stuart gave the council an outline of the CDBG process and deadlines for those who apply for a share of the federal funds.Espinosa noted that last year “We raised the issue about having some public input, the result of some displeasure from various citizens on final decisions the council made that year. . .it’s difficult to please all the people and they were all worthy causes,” but more public input is warranted.
A committee isn’t needed, said Mayor Don Johnson, as “. . .we have a short period of time,” that could be impacted further if a public hearing is required. Johnson was also concerned the council would be left out of the loop: “It’s just a feeling I have; I want to hear [applicants] first hand and make the decisions, that’s why we’re here. I believe it’s a decision the council should make.”The intent is not for the committee to make decisions, said Espinosa. “The sole purpose for them is recommendations. . . they would only review applications,” for grant awards. “. . .the bigger picture is to allow public input into the process,” and not circumvent the councils’ role as decision-makers. Vice Mayor Ray Luna worried over conflict of interest issues related to appointments, but Espinosa said council members and potential appointees would recognize same.Stuart said time constraints, especially if public notice is required, make the likelihood of committee application review unlikely. Espinosa noted that Stuart’s department has historically been the recipient of CDBG funding “more so than any other department in this city. . .we have a Recreation Commission,” and others that don’t require more than 72 hours notice of meeting.Councilman John Procter noted that too much time was being devoted to “fishing for things that could go wrong. . .I would like to move posthaste,” on committee selection; if impossible due to circumstances, “so be it. . .”Councilman Rick Cook suggested to one appointee per member, which was agreed to by the full council.

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