Responding to the high cancellation rate of Youth Commission meetings due to poor attendance by commissioners, the Anaheim City Council voted last night to change its status to an advisory board.

The Youth Commission was created in 2017 at the behest of District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno. It was established with 21 members ranging from 14 to 26, with three members appointed by each councilmember and the mayor. Commissioners serve one-year terms and are supposed to hold 10 monthly meetings a year from September through June.

During its first year of existence during the 2017-2018 school year, 44% of Youth Commission meetings were cancelled due to lack of quorum. During the 2018-2019 term, 80% of Youth Commission meetings were cancelled due to poor attendance by commissioners.

The council was in agreement that the commission was too large and voted to reduce the number of commissioners to 14. Each councilmember and the mayor would appoint two commissioners from an age bracket ranging from 14-21. Their terms were lengthened to two years, with commissioner required to resign if they turned 22.

These changes were in line with recommendations from an ad hoc committees consisting of Mayor Pro Tem Lucille Kring and Councilmembers Jordan Brandman and Jose Moreno.

Despite the high meeting cancellation rate, Moreno recommended giving the Youth Commission the ability to allocate money from the city’s general fund to local non-profits and programs that serve Anaheim youth. Currently, no city commissions have that power.

Moreno defended it as a means to keep the commissioners “engaged” and more likely to attend meetings. He said he’d actually like to give fund-allocation power to all city commissions, but wanted to start with the Youth Commission.

Moreno proposed starting by giving the Youth Commission a $15,000 budget from which to make grants.

“It’s pushing our young folks to think about how funding works, how the city works, and how do you make decisions about how the place your money,” said Moreno.

The council majority found the idea of using $15,000 to educate 14 youth about money management unpersuasive, and the funding proposal died.

District 6 Councilman Trevor O’Neil – citing a staff recommendation from earlier in the year – favored changing the commission’s status to advisory board.

“The recommendation was we consider the potential downgrading of the Youth Commission to a less formal advisory board that can meet and provide input to the council without the requirement to establish an attendance quorum, but could still have a voice,” said O’Neil, who ultimately moved to have the council adopt that recommendation.

O’Neil’s motion was approved 4-3, with himself, Kring, Councilmember Denise Barnes and Mayor Harry Sidhu voting in favor of advisory board status, while Councilmembers Brandman, Moreno and Steve Faessel voted in opposition.

The council also voted to establish a formal attendance requirement policy for all city commissions and boards, as well as a requirement that all new commissioners participate in an orientation to educate them on ethics requirements, the Brown Act and other matters pertaining to their service.