Sherri Lightner 16-9
Council President Sherri Lightner. Photo credit: Chris Stone

A City Council committee for revising the San Diego City Charter has one year to prepare ballot measures for the June 2016 election, council President Sherri Lightner said Thursday.

At the first meeting of the Charter Review Committee, Lightner said the goal is to make the City Charter work better for San Diego residents and city employees.

Numerous flaws in the city’s governing document were discovered in 2013 as officials and the public searched for ways to remove then-scandal plagued Mayor Bob Filner from office.

“We often discover problems with the charter when we’re in the middle of some sort of crisis or major issue,” Lightner said. “We need to address these types of issues now, when we have time to take to actually have a thoughtful, thorough discussion.”

She said she asked for feedback from city managers about problems they see in the City Charter. Beginning Feb. 5, the committee will begin tackling specific problems, Lightner said.

She said the “aggressive timeline” needed to prepare ballot measures “means we’ll be covering a lot of ground in the coming months.”

The charter was adopted in 1931, making it the fourth-oldest among California’s 15 largest cities, according to the San Diego’s Independent Budget Analyst. It has been amended 245 times, the most in the state.

The result, according to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, is a document that is a “mess,” because it is “ambiguous, outdated and incomplete.”

A couple of charter updates were approved by voters in June — making Dec. 10 the regular inauguration date for elected city officials, and allowing more time between special elections and subsequent runoff votes.

City News Service