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Carson is Considering a “City Charter”

Could Carson become a “Charter City”? That is the question before a group of city residents, convened by Mayor Robles and meeting weekly to hammer out details of a potentially major change in city government.

The City of Carson has, since its incorporation, operated as a “General Law” city as specified by state law. The voters of this community could adopt a City Charter, sometimes considered a city constitution.

As a charter city, Carson would have greater authority and autonomy, in some instances, to adopt its own rules relating to “municipal affairs.” A Charter city can exert more control over how it runs its elections, its land use and zoning, how it spends its tax dollars and how it awards contracts.

More than 100 California cities have a Charter, including neighboring cities like Torrance and Long Beach, but Carson’s process has caused some to question whether the city is moving too fast.

The City held the first of two required public hearings on this issue on May 29. The Council appointed a City Charter Commission which has been meeting most Mondays and is currently scheduled to end on July 30. Some members of that committee have raised concerns that this will not be enough time to thoroughly discuss the many issues proposed as part of a Charter proposal.

At the City’s July 3 Council Meeting, an additional public hearing was held regarding the Charter. The Chairwoman of the Charter Committee, Ana Meni, addressed the council, commenting, “even though we have items agendized, we don’t’ necessarily get to all those items,” citing challenges of time constraints and new topics being added. “I know wholeheartedly we won’t get through all the topics in the time allowed,” she added.

Others have expressed concern. In a letter dated July 2, Carson Accountability & Transparency (CAT) wrote to the council “The City has taken a positive step in the creation of a Charter Committee, but is moving that process at breakneck speed. Now 30 days from the prescribed conclusion of that committee’s work at the end of July, scarcely half of the Charter is in draft form. The city has allowed less than 90 days for the Charter Commission to do its work – far less than is necessary for a complete process.”

Among the items that have already been discussed as part of Carson’s potential Charter move are whether the City should hold elections by District, whether the city should change from its elected City Clerk and Treasurer to appointed positions, City Council Salaries, how it hires its City Attorney, and numerous others.

If proposed to the voters in November, a City Charter could make very significant changes to

Carson’s city government.


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