After the Council agreed to Kell's request and postponed her item for several months (7-0, Baker & Grabinski absent), Kell then voted with the rest of the Council (6-0, Baker, Carroll & Grabinski absent) to put a Charter Amendment proposed by City Hall's Recreation Commission on the November, 2002 ballot (to give the appointed body authority over leisure activities in parks).
After that vote, Councilwoman Kell voted with the Council in reappointing incumbent Recreation Commissioners Bea Antenore and Harry Saltzgaver (7-0, Baker & Grabinski absent).
During the March 21, 2002 Recreation Commission meeting, incumbent Commissioner Antenore indicated she opposed putting a grassroots backed park protective Charter Amendment (preventing non-recreational uses on park land) on the November, 2002 ballot (excerpt of Commission minutes, below).
Councilwoman Kell's reversal on her own proposal comes a week after she tried and failed to discuss her plan in the Council's Charter Amendment Committee while it was meeting to discuss the Recreation Commission favored measure. When Kell tried to bring up a different Charter Amendment, City Attorney Bob Shannon indicated [accurately, we believe] that this was not in order because Kell's proposal was not properly before the Committee, not having been referred to the Committee by the City Council.
Kell then agendized her item for the June 18 Council meeting, citing as a justification for her proposal that a "new Open Space Plan for the City of Long Beach is being circulated through City Departments and will be reviewed by the Planning Commission on July 18, 2002. One of the recommendations in that plan is for a ballot measure on construction in city parks."
But when her item was called, Kell cited the Open Space Element to somehow justify postponing discussion of the item for at least two more months.
There is no legal requirement that Kell's proposal be tied to the draft Open Space Element proposes or what the Planning Commission may or may not do with it. The Council has control over what it chooses to put on the ballot as well as what the final Open Space Element ultimately says...and the Council can overrule whatever the Planning Commission recommends on the issue.
Delaying the matter for two months effectively kills any chance of it appearing on the November, 2002 ballot. It also means over a year will have elapsed from the time Kell first agendized the issue, only to pull it off the ballot the night it came up.
In July, 2001 Kell voted with an 8-1 Council majority (Grabinski dissenting) to rezone 2.5 acres of Scherer park land as "institutional" to accommodate the expanded police facility. Before casting her vote, Kell vowed to agendize discussion at the next Council meeting of a ballot measure to ensure this was the last time park land was taken for non-recreational purposes.
A week later, she agendized an item asking the City Attorney to prepare a ballot measure for the next citywide election to decide if all future building on City park property will be limited to recreational use. She requested Council support "for a motion to request the City Attorney's office prepare a ballot measure for the next citywide election...to decide if all future building on City park property only be allowed if it were deemed to be for recreational use."
But on the night of the July 24th Council meeting, the item was pulled off the agenda. Reached later that evening by LBReport.com, Councilwoman Kell indicated several Council members (whom she declined to name) asked her to "pull" (i.e. remove) the item from discussion. Councilwoman Kell also cited Councilmembers' upcoming vacations that could prevent some from taking part in coming meetings [note: all were present on July 24], uncertainty over whether her item would be sent to the Charter Amendment Committee or to the Housing and Neighborhoods Committee, a pending report on Open Space by Parks and Rec Director Phil Hester and Grabinski's so-called "parks in perpetuity" measure.
Councilwoman Kell told LBReport.com she expected it would return in late summer, perhaps sometime in late August. When asked if she still meant to ban future building in parks for non recreational purposes, Councilwoman Kell replied, "Absolutely."
The measure didn't return as the city hurtled toward the 2002 primary Council and Mayoral elections, although the park issue continued to simmer.
In February, 2002, as reported by LBReport.com, Councilwoman Kell told a televised candidate forum, "We may be looking at a Charter Amendment when it comes to parks in perpetuity, and I do believe that we will possibly be doing that parks in perpetuity Charter change in that the voters would want us, I believe, to say that we would not put any non-recreational usage in any of the parks in the city."
Meanwhile, a separate measure favored by City Hall's appointed Recreation Commission moved forward. It likewise had its genesis in the Scherer Park controversy but doesn't explicitly prevent park land from being taken for non park uses. Instead, it focuses on the Recreation Commissioners' jurisdiction.
During the Scherer Park controversy, the Recreation Commissioners were stung by a City Attorney opinion that they could not as a Commission communicate their displeasure with consuming part of Scherer Park to expand the police facility because this wasn't within the Commission's Charter jurisdiction.
As reported at the time by LBReport.com, Commissioners responded by preparing a jointly signed personal letter, communicating to their views to the Council as individuals, not as the Recreation Commission. (LBReport.com posted the Commissioners' jointly signed letter verbatim.)
After the dust settled, the Recreation Commissioners sought to gain the authority the City Attorney had said they lacked. On March 21, 2002, they voted to send their proposal to the Mayor and City Council, seeking a hearing before the Charter Amendment Committee in sufficient time to get their measure on the November, 2002 ballot.
At the same March 21 Recreation Commission meeting, grassroots activists urged the Recreation Commissioners to support a measure to protect park land from non-recreational uses. Here's how the Recreation Commission's official minutes recorded it: