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Escondido Moves Rapidly Ahead On Charter Debate

Credit: DrLandscape / Flickr

The Escondido City Council meets at Esondido City Hall, which is located on North Broadway.

Aired 1/21/14 on KPBS News.

Escondido is moving rapidly ahead with plans to put a new city charter on the November ballot.

The city of Escondido is considering whether to become the 10th city in San Diego County to gain more independence from state regulation. The debate over becoming a charter city is part of a statewide political battle and a more local political battle shaping up over the mayor's seat in Escondido.

A City Council majority rejected pleas from some city residents to set up a commission to work on the charter, which is the equivalent of a city’s constitution.

A charter measure on last year’s ballot was defeated by Escondido voters. Now, the wheels are in motion to put it on the ballot again in November.

More than 100 California cities have voted themselves charter cities primarily in order to get out from under state requirements on things such as paying prevailing wages on public works projects.

But a new state law, Senate Bill 7, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year could mean charter cities lose millions in state funding if they don’t pay prevailing wages.

That law is not yet in effect, and legal battles are almost guaranteed once it does next year.

In the mean time, the Escondido City Council has instructed staff to go ahead with a proposed charter that omits mention of the prevailing wage issue.

Escondido Public Hearings

Wednesday, April 9

Monday, May 21

Councilwoman Olga Diaz, who will challenge Escondido Mayor Sam Abed for his seat in November, wants to involve as many people as possible in the new charter. However, Escondido’s City Council majority has approved just two public hearings, arguing a charter commission could unnecessarily delay matters.

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