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City Council Could Increase Status of Green Advisory Committee

The City Council discussed Tuesday changing the committee to a commission, giving the group more ability to formulate city sustainability policies. Critics called it a poor use of city resources.

The Sierra Madre City Council discussed the possibility of changing the Green Advisory Committee to a Commission, a move that would elevate the status of the group and give the members more responsibilities.

With the change, the permanently appointed body would formulate and propose policies on use, reuse, recycling, and preservation of natural resources for approval by the Sierra Madre City Council.

Possible roles for the permanently appointed body would include acting in an advisory capacity; making periodic inventories of natural resources; investigating funding to implement programs; as well as formulating and proposing policies on use, reuse, recycling, and preservation of natural resources for approval by the Sierra Madre City Council.

However, elimination of the committee in totality would "free-up" 10 to 12 staff hours a month. The city staff is already tight with time, as staff members have been laid-off or full-time staff members have had to convert to part-time hours in the past year.

Advocates for the change cited that it would allow the city to stay ahead of the curve in terms of environmental issues.

“I do see great benefit, it goes beyond dollars and cents. We have so much wealth that the city does in term of green activities and eco ways of living. I am concerned about going forward and becoming better, I think there are a few ways we can do that,” said John Harabedian, a Sierra Madre City Council Member.“Having something institutionalized shows that we are serious about it.”

However, some members of the city council believed that it was unnecessary use of resources.

“I think it’s a bad idea, we have plenty of resources from [the San Gabriel Valle Council of Governments], we don’t need this,” said Chris Koerber, a Sierra Madre City Council Member.

Residents spoke for and against the change as well.

“This is not the time when we need a Commission, when we need extra staff members preparing reports,” said Pat Alcorn, a Sierra Madre resident. “You have to have all these other things coming along a staff needs to do. I just think it’s a bad idea.”

This was the first meeting at which the change was discussed, there will be two other meetings to discuss the issue.

The request to elevate the Commission to a Committee was first made in April 12, 2012 at a Strategic Planning Retreat. As a Brown Act body, the Green Advisory Committee already has a staff liaison assigned to prepare agenda documents and minutes of the meetings.

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