The Charter Review Committee meets again this evening at 6:00 p.m. in the council chambers at Anaheim City Hall. Items on the agenda include:

3. General clean up of language throughout the Charter/gender neutrality

3b. Deliberation of potential obsolete provisions, including but not limited to the following sections: 402, 517, 601

And what are those sections? 402 pertains to “Limitations on Use of Eminent Domain; 517 deals with “Publishing of Legal Notices;” 601 is the requirement for the City Manager to live in Anaheim.

What is obsolete about them? City Attorney Michael Houston explains in a memo to CRC members. Regarding Section 402:

“Several Committee members recognized that state law dissolved redevelopment agencies, and there was further discussion that state law established successors to these dissolved agencies. Committee members inquired whether it was appropriate to update Section 402 to reflect this change in law by potentially amending or deleting potentially obsolete references to the “Anaheim Redevelopment Agency.”

Staff Recommendation: Staff recommends this reference to the “Anaheim Redevelopment Agency” not be deleted based in the explanation below. Rather, staff recommends that the final paragraph of Section 402 be amended as follows (proposed changes shown in underline): “Anaheim Redevelopment Agency (or any successor agency or successor in interest to this entity).

There’s a lengthy discussion of the dissolution of RDA in 2011, which I’m not going to retype but you can for yourself in the memo. Mr. Houston concludes:

“Staff therefore believes that merely deleting the reference to the “Anaheim Redevelopment Agency” would be inappropriate and could, inadvertently  lead to the former redevelopment agency’s successor entities being excepted from Section 402’s prohibition (which would not be the intent of the Committee, we presume). For this reason, staff believes it is best to clarify that City-affiliated agencies include any successors to the former Anaheim Redevelopment Agency.

Houston then moves on to Section 517:

Section 517 establishes a process for qualification and contracting with a newspaper to publish legal notices and other notices of the City. It was suggested that Charter section 517 may be outdated and, therefore, potentially subject to either revision or deletion.

Staff recommendation: In further reviewing this matter, the City Attorney believes this section is still valuable and serves to provide an efficient basis to undertake noticing/publishing obligations that are required of the City in state law, the Anaheim Municipal Code or elsewhere in the Charter. For the reasons state below, the City Attorney does not recommend revising Section 517, nor do I recommend revising publication provisions elsewhere in the City Charter that are analogous to state law because these provisions provide valuable “reminders” of the state law publication obligations.

And further…

Explanation: Section 517 does not address or require notices be published in a particular way. Rather, this section solely addresses the method by which the City is obligated to procure notices that are “required to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the city.”

There’s more, but I think the point is made.

The state law in question is a guaranteed source of income for newspapers, especially those little “community” papers that are really nothing more than published press releases and a ton of public notices. Each year, this law forces local governments to spend thousands and thousands of dollars each paying to publish notices in newspapers that no one reads. It’s silly and anachronistic when you consider these notices would reach more eyeballs if they were posted for free on Craigslist, but any attempt to modify the law is met with furious lobbying from newspapers.

While the CRC can’t eliminate this requirement from the charter, nothing prevents them from adding language permitting the city to avail itself of alternative means of publishing legal notices “as state law permits.” That way, if state law does change, Anaheim won’t need to pass a charter amendment to take advantage of the change.

The third section being considered as part of item 3b is the requirement that the City Manager live in Anaheim (unless given a waiver by the City Council). I understand the sentiment behind this requirement, but don’t understand the necessity of including it in the city charter. If it is so important to a particular council at a particular moment in time when hiring a new city manager, then the requirement can be inserted into the employment agreement.

Generally speaking, if something doesn’t need to be in the charter, then it shouldn’t be.