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PLANNING COMMISSION RECAP, AUGUST 1, 2023
A ten-minute meeting approving a liquor license for Scorpion Lollipop and a Homeless Committee study session
The August 1st Planning Commission meeting opened with a brief disclaimer from Planning Commission Chair Jim Krushat. “Due to technical difficulties today, we will not be able to live stream this meeting.”
As a result, there was audio but no video of the meeting and the meeting recording cut off as soon as the Homeless Committee study session began.
The Desert Trumpet reviews all Planning Commission agendas prior to Commission meetings. For further analysis of items that were discussed, read our Agenda Preview here.
Astrid Johnson of Morongo Basin ARCH addressed the Planning Commission on the topic of a Navigation Center, stating that the purpose of a navigation center is multifaceted, and that when or if the City establishes a navigation center, it should serve as an accessible community asset that provides the following:
health and weather-related resources for people in need
resources such as employment opportunities
access to a drug-free environment
A conditional Use Permit to Scorpion Lollipop for the sale of alcohol for an off-sale permit to sell beer and wine at the retail location was issued after no questions and no public comments on the agenda item. The motion was passed 5-0.
Homeless Committee Study Session — not or streamed or recorded
Despite the City having live-streamed the previous Homeless Committee study session at their June 20th meeting, and City staff being available due to the brevity of the Planning Commission meeting, no livestream or recording of the Homeless Committee took place. The Brown Act was passed to ensure transparency of local governments. When queried about the lack of recording, City Manager Frank Luckino stated that the Act does not require that City meetings be recorded. Luckino emphasized, “The prior and current policy is committees are not recorded, only the Council and Planning Commission. Council action on this topic would change the policy.”
The City is walking a line on this — because five Planning Commissioners sit on the Homeless Committee, it really exists in a gray area between the Planning Commission and a stand-alone committee, so the failure to record or not appears random and not driven by policy.
However, what is clear is that if Twentynine Palms residents want access to and reporting on these essential Committee meetings, it is crucial that they contact their Council members. It is time for Council to come out of the shadows and have a public discussion about Committee meetings being available to the public via streaming and recording. If some Council members are against the transparency provided by public access, then a City Council vote on the matter should be conducted so residents know where their representative Council members stand heading into the 2024 election.
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