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Legislation Giving State Appointments to SCAQMD Threatens Local Control

August 24, 2016
Amendments taken last week to SB 1387 (de León) do not rectify the bad precedent this legislation establishes by giving state additional authority over appointments to a regional board.
Under SB 1387, the Governor, the Senate and the Assembly will appoint one new member each to the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board (SCAQMD) who represent disadvantaged communities within the district. This measure is now eligible for a vote in the Assembly and cities are urged to take action immediately to communicate their opposition.

Regional boards should be overwhelmingly comprised of representatives selected by and from local communities within the geographic region. Having a disproportionate number of state-appointed members completely undermines the role and effectiveness of a regional board and transforms it into a regional board in name only. Giving the state this authorization is akin to giving a county board of supervisors responsibility over appointing 40 percent of city planning commissioners for cities in the county.
While SB 1387 only deals with SCAQMD, it could lead to more state medaling in matters that should be addressed locally by locally elected and appointed officials. Its overreach can be summarized in three key ways:
  • Undermines local control. SB 1387 tips the scales of equity by giving state representatives almost 40 percent of the seats on a regional board that is meant to represent local interests and is currently represented by city and county officials from four counties.
  • Unnecessarily increases state control. SB 1387 isnot needed to appoint underrepresented stakeholders on the SCAQMD board. Current law already provides the Governor, Senate Committee on Rules, and the Speaker of the Assembly appointments on the SCAQMD governing board; there are no restrictions on the Senate and Assembly appointments.
  • Bypasses the Democratic process. With the exceptions of the current state appointees, the SCAQMD board is made up of county supervisors, mayors, and council members, all elected by voters. Additionally, the five city selection appointments are elected in open meetings at each of the four counties’ City Selection Committees. SB 1387 bypasses public participation by adding more political appointments to the SCAQMD board. 
City officials from SCAQMD have been voicing their concerns and opposition to SB 1387 in a series of op-eds that have run in newspapers throughout California. These include: Next Steps

City officials are urged to take action immediately to communicate their opposition to their Assembly member. SB 1387 could be voted on at any time.

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