Commissions are an important part of every city’s government. That’s why we have parks, planning and environmental commissions. Other cities have traffic commissions, though Seal Beach seems to do nicely without one. Some cities have a public safety commission and others a seniors commission.
Yet Seal Beach does have a Tree Advisory Board. Call them boards, committees or commissions, these are political bodies—city agencies made up of politically appointed members. In Seal Beach, members of these bodies are part timers who contribute service to their community by preserving and/or influencing public policy through their commission work.
Do we really need a city agency just for trees?
While some commissions are necessary—in some cases, required—others are not. Some years ago the Seal Beach civil service commission was disbanded. It seems to me reasonable to ask if the time hasn’t come to ponder the continued existence of the tree board.
I agree trees are an important part of the city landscape. But so is the beach—and Seal Beach has managed to muddle through without a beach commission or a sand advisory board. The economy is important, but we don’t have an economic commission. Public safety and traffic are important issues—but we don’t have or seem to need public safety or traffic commissions.
Perhaps a Tree Advisory Board was necessary when Seal Beach was creating a Master Tree Plan. Well, we have one now. The Public Works Department has the authority to remove a tree if it becomes a threat to public safety—we could hardly wait for a board meeting to address a safety issue—leaving us with a city agency that decides if a tree may be planted here or may be removed from there (subject to the vote of the majority of the Tree Advisory Board’s members.)
It seems to me that the work of the tree advisory board could be easily folded into the work of the Planning Commission. The Recreation and Parks Commission could address those tree-related issues that come up in parks. For public rights-of-way, business properties and homes, the Planning Commission would seem to be the more appropriate agency.
Abolishing the board, by the way, could help off set the cost of creating a seniors committee, which I suggested in last week’s blog. When public agencies meet, city officials must also attend including legal counsel and appropriate city staff. For example, the Community Development Department director attends Planning Commission meetings as well as the assistant city attorney. The City Clerk’s Office must also attend the meetings of Seal Beach commissions. That costs the city money. Disbanding a commission or board would, therefore, save money.