September 2011 home page

  Citizen Voices
Terry Sinnott, Del Mar City Council


Photo panorama Art Olson.

editorial: Del Mar Talent Bank

Open, transparent government is a necessity for our community. Del Mar provides a unique opportunity for citizens to be involved in all phases of City government. But to be involved people need to know what is going on. The City currently provides a great deal of information on its website. You can see agendas, staff reports, and even view streaming videos of meetings at the City. A new Update from the City Manager provides a weekly status report of progress at City Hall. This is all very positive.

But during the last campaign for City Council, a common criticism I heard from residents was that the City was conducting too much business behind closed doors, and we as a Council should get out into the community and communicate more what is going on.

Lee Haydu and I have taken this criticism to heart. We have been working on ways the City could improve the two-way communication between City Council members and our residents.

We have identified three improvements we have proposed to Council.

First, the Council should regularly hold neighborhood meetings throughout the year to share information, hear from residents their concerns and answer questions. The meetings would be small, informal get-togethers, hosted in a home, and attended by neighbors. Each meeting would be facilitated by two City Council members. We could schedule one meeting a month throughout the year and cover all the neighborhoods of the City.

Second, we should strengthen the ties between the City Council and the 9 Advisory Committees and 12 non-profit organizations in Del Mar. Two Council members are assigned to each committee/organization as “liaisons.” We propose that each year the liaisons work with each group to prepare a one page work plan that describes how the committee or organization can contribute to City projects and priorities.

Third, develop a web-polling tool to allow the City to post questions on the web and register public opinion on current issues and proposals.

We presented these three ideas to Council on August 8th. The Council was supportive, but with reservations. There was concern whether residents would attend neighborhood meetings with Council members. Some Council members were cautious about making the work plans too detailed or restrictive. And members correctly pointed out that polling has limited value unless it is professionally designed and implemented. So we will work to revise our proposal to address these concerns and bring the ideas back to Council for further consideration.

What do you think? We value your input. Let your Council know by phone or email.



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