The Riverside City Council did not vote Tuesday on whether to remove the Planning Commission chairman after he refused to vote for a ban on most marijuana uses in the city, even though Councilman Steve Adams still says the commissioner is untrustworthy.
Adams met Monday with members of the Planning Commission and City Council, as well as Mayor Rusty Bailey, who said he would block the move. The planned vote was removed later that day from Tuesday’s City Council agenda.
Adams, who strongly supports the city’s ban on marijuana uses, called for Commissioner Maartin Rossouw to resign or be removed after Rossouw refused to vote for a ban on most marijuana uses in the city. Rossouw said he didn’t have enough information to justify a vote for the proposed ban, which the City Council overruled the commission by approving on July 10.
The city’s charter states that Planning Commission members can be removed if at least five of the city’s eight elected officials — the seven City Council members and the mayor — vote to do so.
Adams said in an interview Monday that he saw no purpose in fighting to remove Rossouw when he could see the proposal would be voted down, but he blamed Bailey for defending a commissioner he calls unfit.
“The mayor doesn’t think it’s important to have honor, integrity and dignity to serve on the commission,” Adams said.
Bailey said anyone with evidence a commissioner acted unethically should bring the complaint to the city’s ethics commission. But removing a volunteer over what appears to be a single disagreement could lessen the public’s trust and commissioners’ independence, he said.
“I don’t think it’s the right signal to send to boards and commission members — that we will remove you if we don’t agree with your opinion or your input,” Bailey said. “Especially on a matter as serious and important as this one.”
The commission voted 2-5 on May 31 against making permanent the city’s ban on dispensaries, outdoor marijuana growing and other marijuana uses, with several members saying they felt left out of the city’s decision-making process. The City Council overruled the commission July 10, voting 4-3 for the ban.
Ideally, planning commissioners would have watched those meetings online or read the minutes, but it also would have been wise for the council to invite the commission to participate in one of those meetings, Bailey said.
Rossouw, who has been on the Planning Commission six years, declined to comment Monday.
Councilman Chuck Conder, who also participated in Monday’s meeting, said he still lacks confidence that all members of the commission understand their role, and suggested council members meet with each of the city’s commissions to explain how they fit into the city’s governance.
“When they deviate so vastly from what their duty was that day, I’m not sure they understand their role,” he said, referring to the May 31 meeting.
The Planning Commission is responsible for reviewing land-use decisions in the city and giving advice about it to the City Council.
Bailey said he saw no problem with council members joining the ongoing training sessions for members of city boards.