By Jonathan Morales
Monday, October 24th, 2011 at 4:26 pm in Uncategorized.
Just because Orinda’s leaf blower foes are ready to compromise does not mean the City Council is going to take this issue up again.
The group Quiet Orinda asked the city council earlier this month for a spot on a City Council agenda. City Manager Janet Keeter responded about a week later, saying they need a majority of council members to agree to put it on an agenda — something the group does not have right now.
I checked in with a Brown Act expert last week, who said, unlike K-12 school districts, where constituents have the right to have an item placed on a future meeting agenda, cities (and other boards) have complete discretion over what lands on their agendas.
So Quiet Orinda is in a bind when it comes to getting the council to take up leaf blowers again. They cannot force the City Council to discuss the issue. They can (and have) bring the topic up during the “public comment” section of council meetings, but by law council members are barred from acting on or even discussing anything brought up during public comment.
Several Quiet Orinda members say they didn’t get a fair shake when the council heard this issue last November. The group was given 15 minutes to make a presentation, the council heard hours of public comment then discussed the matter among themselves before deciding to take no action. That’s pretty standard. Certainly, the council could have given Quiet Orinda more than 15 minutes to make its case, or set up a separate leaf blower “workshop” allowing for a more free-flowing exchange of ideas. But from a procedural standpoint, the discussion that November evening was not any different than any other at a City Council meeting.
Bottom line: It looks like leaf blower foes will need to get three City Council members on their side if they want to see any city action on this matter.
Document time. Here’s Quiet Orinda’s letter to the city: Quiet Orinda Oct. 4, 2011 letter. And here’s Keeter’s response: City Manager Oct. 12, 2011 response to Quiet Orinda.