San Leandro Councilmember Ursula Reed advocated
for extending council term limits, but discussion
turned toward revamping the city charter.

SAN LEADNRO CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro’s city charter, its guiding document for governance, is archaic and need wholesale changes, said several councilmembers last week.

The issue of San Leandro’s city charter was introduced last week after termed out Councilmember Ursula Reed advocated during a meeting last May for extending the City Council’s term limits beyond two four-year terms.

Support for longer terms that would have only benefited future councilmembers, however, failed to receive any support at the June 6 meeting. Several councilmembers, instead, said the city charter should be reexamined and potentially put before voters in November 2018.

Councilmember Jim Prola called the charter “archaic” and suggested a comprehensive look at the charter could not be accomplished in time for inclusion on the November 2016 ballot. “I don’t think you should put it on the ballot in a rush,” said Prola, who also feared a charter amendment initiative would put other potential San Leandro ballot measures next fall at risk for failure.

Councilemmbers Corina Lopez, Lee Thomas and Deborah Cox agreed that the city charter may need revamping in the future. However, a motion to send the item to the City Council’s Rules Committee was never made last Monday night. Criticism of the city charter’s current utility has been questioned in the past and has not been updated for more than 40 years.

The charter, though, was amended in 1974 to enact term limits on the mayor and city council terms. Reed’s initial inquiry into extending those limits was met with opposition from the public, according to some councilmembers on the receiving end of emails from the public. According to the San Leandro City Clerk Tamika Greenwood, 49 similar ballot measures in the state since 2008 have been placed before voters. A vast majority, however, were for implementing term limits and succeeded. The few, like Reed was proposing, to lengthen council terms, all failed.