City attorney ballot decision moves ahead
by Garth Meyer
Should Redondo Beach keep its practice of electing a city attorney? Or should the city council appoint one? Voters may be asked to decide in 2025.
The city council voted 5-0 Tuesday, Nov. 7, to seek a charter review committee recommendation, then decide whether to put the question on a ballot.
“This is giving people the option. That’s all this is,” said Councilman Todd Loewenstein.
The charter review committee input would include whether to give voters a package version: an appointed city attorney and an elected city prosecutor.
As it stands, Redondo City Attorney Mike Webb handles both. Estimated cost for a ballot measure ranges from $208,000 to $267,000.
Public comment Tuesday included support to keep the position elected – “the last check on the mayor’s power” – and others saying how rare Redondo is in the practice. Just 12 California cities elect their city attorney.
Webb supports the status quo.
“In 30 years that I’ve worked for the city, I’ve seen a lot of councils, a lot of dynamics…,” he said, noting that the cost is less. His rate, he calculated, was $207 per hour.
“We pay our outside counsel much more than that,” he said.
Councilman Scott Behrendt, an attorney himself, said that opinions he has read about the “independence” of an elected position resonated with him.
In public input, resident Jim Light proposed a hybrid – the city manager could recommend a city attorney and the council would vote whether to approve.
Redondo’s charter review committee previously recommended, in a 4-3 vote, that the council run a ballot measure to ask voters if they want an appointed city attorney. ER