OAKLEY -- City Council members have decided to hold off on reinstating a planning commission.
The Council decided last week that it prefers having a less formal advisory body weigh in on development and other land-use matters.
A previous council disbanded the city's original planning commission in 2009, saying there was less need for the standing group of five appointees because the number of new homes going up had diminished significantly.
Members of planning commissions consider such subjects as amendments to a city's general plan and zoning ordinances, as well as conditional use permits that allow exceptions to zoning rules.
They also get involved in reviewing the proposed designs of new buildings and changes to existing ones.
Mayor Randy Pope recently brought up the idea of reintroducing an advisory group to the council, if not an actual planning commission, to give residents more of a voice in city government.
One of the arguments against establishing another commission is the cost: Although Oakley's former planning commissioners did not receive any stipend, the city spent a significant amount of staff time -- $40,000 is the rough estimate for the first year of their term -- choosing and training the applicants as well as having planners and other employees prepare staff reports for the meetings and attend them.
A so-called "planning advisory committee" would be less expensive because it would not have regular meetings; members instead would review the same packets of information that the city already sends to other agencies with a vested interest in a proposed project and email their comments to staff members, who in turn would convey those suggestions or concerns to the City Council.
Councilmembers also acknowledged that there isn't the same need for a planning commission as there used to be because the large housing developments that kept the first one busy have been built.
"I don't think the workload is there," Vice Mayor Doug Hardcastle said.
City Special Counsel Bill Galstan now will draw up a resolution to formalize the committee, a document that will stipulate, among other things, the number of appointees who will be on the committee, the length of their term and nature of their responsibilities.
The City Council is expected to vote on the matter in March or April.
Reach Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.