Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jong Soo (Peter) Lee
Last Friday the City of Santa Ana took a huge step toward increasing transparency in their city government.
By approving the “Sunshine Ordinance” with a unanimous 6-0, vote, the Santa Ana City Council has essentially committed to making their entire calendar available to the public in all its glory. The transparency Full Monty, if you will.
But at the moment, it’s just an agreement to putting a plan in action. City attorneys are going to huddle with the sponsors of the legislation to get the plan together.
A similar sunshine policy was proposed by Councilwoman Michele Martinez back in 2007 but did not pass. This time around, it looked like the ordinance was headed for the same fate. Support for the law was initially deemed “tepid” until two local activist groups, the Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development and the Santa Ana Collaborative for Responsible Development (SACReD), worked together to develop an eight point policy proposal.
The council approved 7 of the 8 following recommendations proposed by SACReD:
- Public meetings about upcoming development projects before they come before the council.
- Increased notification to residents and businesses regarding potential development projects.
- Public access to the city’s requests for proposals for city projects.
- Mandatory lobbyist registry.
- Public access to council members’ and appointed officials’ meetings calendars.
- Oversight commission to monitor how government is functioning.
- Budget meetings to include public input in shaping the city budget.
- Public hearings allowing residents the opportunity to prioritize which city programs are more important to them.
The creation of an oversight commission was the only proposal to be nixed from the plan.
Although the drafted ordinance will require final approval before it goes into effect, the move is seen as a big win for proponents of open government as well as the residents of Santa Ana. Commenting on the motion Vincent Sarmiento said, “I think this will probably make Santa Ana one of the most open governments in the state.”
As an organization committed to championing transparency and the unifying effects it has between governments and their consituents, we applaud the Santa Ana City Council on their unanimous support for such an ordinance.