Update: April 14, 2011

City Council votes to Disband Parks & Rec

In a 4-1 (Roy Francis opposed) vote, the City Council at a Special Meeting on April 14th, voted to disband the Parks and Recreation Commission. There was little discussion and it is not known how the Avocado Festival, already scheduled and in process, will be run or manned.

La Habra Heights Parks and Rec Commission votes to Disband

After holding a Special Meeting on Thursday April 7th to decide whether to televise their meetings, the Parks and Rec Commission held another Special Meeting on Tuesday April 12th to decide whether to disband.

Just as with the April 7th meeting, the April 12th meeting was not listed on the city website.

City Calendar for April 12th

Unlike the April 7th meeting which had three armed deputies in attendance, the April 12th meeting had only one.

Sheriff's Dept Posted to P&R meeting

Chair Karen Vipperman opened the meeting and started taking comments on the disbanding item.

Resident Stephen Blagden said:
“Anyone interested in open and transparent government would want the Parks and Rec Commission to continue.
Commissioners are appointed by the Council, but just as important, are the eyes, ears, and mouths for residents amongst those who would prefer that residents neither be seen, nor heard, unless they are paying taxes or fees.

While we may not always agree on things, this is the only forum we have.

Here is your mission as stated in your bylaws:
The mission of the parks and recreation commission is to study and determine the park, recreation and open space needs of the city and serve as an advisory body providing recommendations to the city council on matters pertaining to the planning, programming, evaluating and funding of park and recreation programs at the park.

Event planning is a minor part of your mission, yet is stated in your motion as the reason to disband.”

Resident Joyce Jensen said "You could do just as well as a committee than as a commission."
"Our small community would benefit from a less formal situation as a committee

Commissioner Faith Grimm made a motion, “To request the city council to disband the parks and recreation commission as the logistics of event planning are more suitable for a committee of volunteers than a formal commission.”

Seconded by Commissioner Yvonne Strain

Commissioner Sandy Dykier said that being a Commission and able to use letterhead made it easier when they were seeking money. She also like that they were videotaped and the city can see what is going on. She said “can't see staying a commission if we are going to have the hassles we have from certain members of the community”
Ms. Dykier said she wants to disband go back to a committee so we can talk and not have to worry about being put on a skewer.

Chair Karen Vipperman said we became a commission in May 2009.
We tried it on for the last 2 years, Makes it difficult to do our jobs in not being able to talk to each other. “It's becoming cumbersome for us to do our jobs as a commission because we are under the brown act.”
“These events we spend hours and hours putting these wonderful events for this community. That's what we do. That's all we're here to do.”
She reiterated her opposition to televising the meetings saying,
“I do think it creates a venue for the three residents in the community who like to confuse things, who like to use the cameras as a venue to spread their hate and division and all their lies and everything that they do.”
“We're just a bunch of little girls who like to do events. We like to put on parties. That's why we're on Parks and Rec.”
“I am for disbanding as a commission and becoming a committee”

Yvonne Strain said Sandy had said what she wanted.

The Commission voted 4-0 vote to disband and become committee

Chair Vipperman directed City Cameraman Joe Geissinger to turn the camera off for public comments so they would not be recorded or broadcast.

Joyce Jensen said the meetings could be videotaped and put in an archive for people to have access to.
She asked whether they would have to take public comments as a Committee.
City Staffmember Gabriella Yap said they would not, since they would not be under the Brown Act.

Joyce Jensen, also a La Habra Heights Improvement Association Director, said she doesn't see the necessity of having City Council meetings put on public access either.

The meeting was then adjourned and Chair Vipperman cautioned that they are still under the Brown Act until acted upon by the City Council.

See the entire 12 minute meeting (a 40 MB file), including the blacked out public comments portion here:

Watch Meeting Video