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Davis, California

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Mayor Chapman meets with Open Space and Habitat Commission to discuss upcoming changes

The Council Subcommittee on Commissions is gathering feedback from each city commission regarding structure adjustments 


By OLIVIA HOKR — city@theaggie.org 


On May 6, the city of Davis Open Space and Habitat Commission and Mayor Josh Chapman met with the main objective of reviewing the proposed changes to the structure and goals of the commission and its subcommittees. 

The Council Subcommittee on Commissions was tasked with the duty of reviewing each commission’s functions and structures. This also includes the consolidation of some commissions to reduce redundancy and increase effectiveness. They recently provided the recommendations for various Davis advisory commissions and have been going one-by-one to discuss these suggestions. The agreed-upon changes, which can be found in a memo from the meeting, include: the creation of new commissions, updating commissions authorizing resolutions and assigning community engagement efforts.

“We were tasked, the vice mayor and I, over a year ago to kind of step back and look at commissions in general and ways to have them be more efficient, robust input into the work we’re doing at council,” Chapman said. “We wanted to create a more succinct and focused function for each one. We tried to narrow down the overlapping scopes and put them into functions that were very specific so we didn’t have these really broad pieces.”

At their meeting, the Open Space and Habitat Commission reviewed the proposed recommendations to create more clarity among the focuses of their commission. In order to make those functions clear, the Council Subcommittee on Commissions specifically wrote out three to four primary functions of each commission. They were asked to check if the proposed scopes are clear, if they cover the expected areas and if they are manageable, according to the memo. 

Members of the Open Space and Habitat Commission had concerns regarding the redundancy of the functions, the lack of public outreach ability, the “Strategic Plan” timeline and the expectations of public engagement. There were also questions about the openness of collaboration between commissions. It was previously written out that the commission was open to working with others, according to Ramiro Cabanillas-Ledesma, a member of the commission. 

“I understand there’s an effort to define commissions more stringently than before,” Cabanillas-Ledesma said. “However, I do really like the wording previously of working cooperatively or maybe, you know, working in a different way but also that sort of emphasizes that we’re a commission who’s open to collaborating with others.”

Chapman clarified that he and his team expect commissions with mutual interests to work cooperatively together. He proposed the implementation of an overarching statement for all commissions that can express the expectation of mutual cooperation. 

After meeting with each commission, Chapman and Vice Mayor Vaitla will be working together to take into account the responses from each group. By the end of this month, the city plans to move forward with the implementation of the approved changes. 

“Once the last commission completes [the review], Vice Mayor Vaitla and I will work as a subcommittee to take that feedback and put it into a document that will come back to council on [May] 21,” Chapman said. 


Written by: Olivia Hokr — city@theaggie.org 


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