It’s one of the two novel touches — the other being online or absentee balloting — intended to create more buzz and increase participation on election day, when voters select seven of the 14 planning-board members for two-year terms.
Like the other 40-odd community planning groups holding annual elections in March, the OBPB can only make recommendations to the city regarding land-use and quality-of-life issues. But with a new mayor at City Hall who has stressed a renewed dedication to the neighborhoods, it could be an exciting time for democracy at the community level, said Landry Watson, who sits on the OBPB’s Election Committee.
“These propositions will be advisory only — we can’t make the city lower our taxes,” Watson said. “But we’re hoping we can engage the community and remove obstacles for both voters and candidates.”
Advisory propositions are not without precedent in Ocean Beach, but they haven’t appeared in several years. Previous ballots have dealt with issues like rent control and the beach-alcohol ban, and Watson said he’s eager to see what citizens will come up with this time around.
The board will also consider propositions for inclusion on the ballot at its next monthly meeting on Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center, 4726 Santa Monica Ave.
This year will also mark the first-ever use of online balloting. In previous elections, voters have had to show up at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center during a three-hour window on election day. Feedback has shown that’s too constraining, and last year’s voter turnout was one of the lowest ever, Landry said. This year, citizens who prefer to vote online need only register in advance.
“We’ve received a lot of complaints in the past from people who couldn’t make it on election day,” Watson said.
To run for the OBPB or vote in the election, a citizen must be at least 18 years old and have lived, owned property or run a business in the Ocean Beach planning area for at least 30 days. In addition, candidates must collect 35 signatures from eligible voters in the district in which they run.
The planning area is split into seven districts – boundaries can be found at oceanbeachpb.com.
Hopefuls must also have attended at least one meeting in the calendar year before election day.
The deadline is Sunday, Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. to preregister to vote, submit a candidate application, or submit an advisory proposition.
Materials must be submitted by mail or in person to an Ocean Beach Planning Board Election Committee member. If you want to run and you miss the deadline, you have until March 11 to qualify as a write-in candidate.
More information is available at oceanbeachpb.com.