Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2022  
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  Board and Commission Vacancies
November 18, 2022

After I Posted “City Council Members Shut Down Appointments,” I read over 100 comments on social media, some from rabid RPA supporters suggesting that my ill-fated appointments to the Design Review Board and Planning Commission rejected by the RPA City Council members were a desperate last-minute effort to stack the boards and asking why I had submitted those appointments at the last minute.

This would be a good time to discuss the appointment process. Richmond has 21 active boards, commissions and committees whose 235 authorized members are appointed, as described in the Charter, by the mayor with approval of the City Council. I take my responsibility seriously, and the mayor’s Office works hard to solicit applications, including using multiple social media platforms and reading the list of vacancies at one City Council meeting a month. Finding willing applicants is challenging, to which 68 vacancies can attest. With a couple of exceptions, these vacancies are the result of lack of applicants.

The mayor also makes appoints to several regional boards and commissions, such as Richmond’s representative on the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District Board.

Some of these are critical to operation of the City.

  • If the Design Review Board and Planning Commission cannot convene a quorum, construction projects can be delayed, causing substantial cost and inconvenience to applicants.
  • If the Community Police Review Commission cannot convene a quorum, action on critical investigations can be delayed.
  • If the Housing Advisory Commission cannot convene a quorum, critical Richmond Housing Authority items that require City Council action cannot be agendized.
  • If the Personnel Board cannot convene a quorum, critical decisions involving employee complaints, class descriptions and compensation cannot proceed.
  • If the Rent Board cannot convene a quorum, the Rent program cannot function.
  • If the Historic Preservation Commission cannot convene a quorum, projects it must review can be held up.

On a body with five to seven members, like the Design Review Board and Planning Commission, a vacancy or two and even one absent member can put it out of business.

The allegation that I am using the last two months of office to “stack” boards and commissions is not credible. The lack of applicants means that with a couple of exceptions, I pretty much appoint everyone who applies to any board or commission regardless of their political beliefs. I even appointed Gayle McLaughlin to the Public Bank of the East Bay Committee in April of 2022.

I appointed RPA Member Eduardo Martinez to the NURVE Police Ad Hoc Committee, the West County Agency, the East Bay Regional Parks Liaison Committee, the Gilman Street Sports Complex Board, the North Richmond Mitigation Fee Joint Committee, the WCCTAC Board and as WCCUSC Liaison.

If they had volunteered, I would have appointed other RPA City Council members to some of these positions.

Below is my November report on vacancies provided at a City Council meeting:

The Design Review Board has one vacancy, and there will be a second when Jonathan Livingston resigns, leaving the two vacancies I tried unsuccessfully to fill on November 15.

The Mayor’s Office has run multiple solicitations o public media looking for design Review Board applicants. Below are examples from January and September of this year.

In September, I wrote letters to all 51 licensed architect who reside in Richmond.


It’s not just the Design Review Board; we have been working hard but unsuccessfully to recruit the one individual that the mayor can appoint to the Personnel Board.