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Red-light camera ban headed to November ballot

Charter committee recommended other changes including changing the city council's schedule.

July 12, 2012|By Mike Reicher

Newport Beach voters will have the option in November to ban red-light cameras from the city.

The City Council voted Tuesday to include a red-light camera prohibition in the list of charter amendments that will come before the electorate this fall. The city has no red-light cameras now. Other cities have banned them amid complaints that they were merely a way to boost city revenue.

The vote was the culmination of a months-long charter update process, where a committee sifted through about 40 sections of the city's constitution and recommended changes to the council.

Voters have to approve any changes.

Other provisions on the November ballot include: the council would only have to meet once in August and December instead of twice; more city employees would be permitted to award city contracts; class-action claims against the city would be prohibited; council members would be permitted to receive "compensation" instead of just "reimbursement" — a change that is not expected to increase their pay; and some other minor changes.

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One controversial change the council backed away from was regarding control of the city's library system. Today, the Board of Library Trustees controls much of the library, including the hiring and firing of the library services director. The proposed change would have stripped away most of its power and made it an advisory body, with the city manager holding the ultimate say.

Elizabeth Stahr, one of the key fundraisers when the Central Library was built in the 1990s, told the council that it would be a mistake to centralize the power.

"The system works very well the way it is," she said.

Some said that the city manager would be more susceptible to political pressures when hiring a library director. Voters in the 1990s denied a similar library charter amendment.

In other news, the council approved a $1-million expenditure for audio-visual equipment in the under-construction Civic Center, including $200,000 for new TV cameras and other equipment to broadcast council meetings.

Also, the council approved a $115,000 contract to study city employees' compensation and job classifications. The contract is with Fox Lawson and Associates, a national human resources consulting firm.

mike.reicher@latimes.com

Twitter: @mreicher

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