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Environmental committee looks to get revamped

After falling apart last year, newly renamed committee is now seeking applicants for seven open spots.

February 16, 2012|By Barbara Diamond

City officials were appalled last year when no one applied for four open seats on the Environmental Committee and one of the three remaining members resigned.

A council subcommittee, appointed to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it, provided some recommendations, which were approved by the council Feb. 7.

The recommendations included assigning specific tasks for the newly renamed Environmental Sustainability Committee.

"What we saw as part of the problem was that council did a poor job of communicating what we wanted them to do, so every member came up with projects and everyone went off in different directions," said Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger, who served on the subcommittee with Mayor Jane Egly and Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman.

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The subcommittee avoided that pitfall by recommending that the revamped committee be assigned the tasks of developing a sustainability element for the General Plan and recommending Complete Streets projects.

"It is important to the city to have a committee that focuses on environmental and economic sustainability," Grossman said.

He will attend all the committee meetings as a representative of the Planning Commission.

Seven committee members will be appointed at the March 6 council meeting. Applications must be submitted by Feb. 28 to the city clerk's office. Terms are for two years. Applicants must be Laguna residents.

Regular meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month. Meetings may be two or more hours long and often require a great deal of preparation.

The committee will research, review and advise the council on items related to protecting the environment and improving the community's future sustainability. It also may develop its own projects as time permits.

"The council needs to give them specific tasks it feels are important to get done, but that does not preclude coming up with ideas to present to the council," Grossman said.

Members typically work in subcommittees to research issues and policies, then prepare recommendations for approval by the whole committee for submission to the City Council. A personal time commitment of 10 to 15 hours per month may be necessary.

Applicants should have or be able to acquire certain skills or aptitudes, such as the ability to perform research; review government documents, including city ordinances, staff reports, planning documents, municipal codes and related material; and work in a cooperative, respectful and reliable manner with others.

Experience in land-use planning, transportation, community outreach, landscape design and wildlife biology would be an asset.

Committee applications are available to the public for downloading on the city's website or in the city clerk's office.

For more information, email Egly or Rollinger, or call Michael Phillips at (949) 497-0390.

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