Del Rey Oaks Mayor Jerry Edelen says he will create another opportunity for the City Council to consider whether the little city should join the regional energy consortium known as Monterey Bay Community Power.
“I will be placing this issue on our next City Council agenda (April 25) for discussion/possible action,” he said via email, adding that he remains concerned that the city potentially faces liability as great as that faced by the other 20 jurisdictions involved in the project even though most of them are considerably larger than Del Rey Oaks. If that issue can be resolved, he said he can see the city participating.
The Del Rey Oaks council originally agreed to take part in the three-county agency on a unanimous vote but a council majority switched sides March 28 when the issue returned to the council for a mandatory second reading. A petition for a rehearing has been circulating and Councilman Layne Buckley has been rallying others to support another vote on the issue. Unlike many cities, Del Rey Oak’s statutes provide that only the mayor can return a matter to the council for a rehearing.
The venture has received strong support from area activists, and other cities involved in the venture have agreed to pick up some of Del Rey Oaks’ initial costs of membership. But City Attorney Christina Trujillo said at the March 28 meeting that the city could face liability equal to that of the three county governments involved – Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito – or the various other cities involved. That caused Edelen and two others to reverse their votes, leading to a 3-2 decision against membership. Of the 21 potential members in the three counties, only Del Rey Oaks and King City have balked though a final decision hasn’t been made in Pacific Grove. The Pacific Grove City Council is scheduled to vote on the matter Wednesday.
Edelen said, “I am scheduling this issue because ultimately it will be a City Council decision. Our collective wisdom is almost always better than the wisdom of any one of us….including me.”
The mayor said he and the city manager have talked to other cities about ways to limit Del Rey Oaks’ exposure. As it stands, the city is in a four-city pool, along with Seaside, Marina and Sand City and, Edelen said, each is equally liable.
“Both my new city manager and I have tried with the other cities,” Edelen said. “We got a partial response from Seaside; however, it doesn’t address any future liabilities. I’ll speak to those during our Council Meeting.