Monday, March 10, 2008

Tuesday meeting open to public


What is described as a special meeting of the Santa Barbara City Council is called for 9 a.m. Tuesday on how to confront and contain rising gang violence in the city.
The meeting is open to the public. It is at the Gebhard Public Meeting Room, 630 Garden St.
Although it is billed as a special meeting of the council, councilmembers are not expected to actively participate. For legal reasons linked to California’s open meeting law, it has to receive the same public notice as a regular council session.

“Several councilmembers may attend” tomorrow’s meeting, according to a staff memo e-mailed to the 15 individuals invited to the meeting, scheduled to last until 11:30 a.m.
The session will use a Jan. 31 meeting called by City Hall staff as a foundation to focus on the high priority issue of youth violence. That meeting was closed to the public.
Jim Armstrong, the city administrator, will deliver opening remarks, and will be aided by Don Olson, who manages special projects for the city.
Olson said yesterday that it wasn’t clear if the lawmakers who show up would want to make any comments or ask questions.
The 15 participants, all members of a recently formed Strategy Planning Committee, are expected to hold a couple of more sessions over the next few months before pitching anti-gang violence recommendations to the City Council.
The staff memo says “the committee is intended to have a limited, but important role. In moving forward, we need to recognize that this effort is only one of many efforts underway in our community related to youth and families.
“City staff will continue to emphasize our priority: To work together to find ways to reduce youth violence by focusing on the 100 kids who are involved in gangs and the 750 kids who are affiliated or are at high risk of becoming gang members.” The figures were provided by the SBPD at the Jan. 31 meeting.
Among the 15 members who are scheduled to attend are four who collaborated on the city’s now-defunct Pro-Youth Coalition in the 1990s, designed to tackle a surge in gang crime at that time.
The series of City Hall-backed meetings comes amid a report by the SBPD that gang-related crime is up 68 percent over the past two years.

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