Jim Mosher for City Council
Fighting for Better Government Since 2009
"My name is Jim Mosher."
Those who have attended or watched broadcasts of Newport Beach City Council, or other City or other agency meetings, for the last 13 years will have heard those words countless times as I rise to offer suggestions or criticize potential government actions. They may or may not be aware of the thousands of pages of written commentary, now in the City archives, that have backed those comments.
Who is Jim Mosher?
I am a retired Caltech-educated scientist, a 42-year resident and homeowner of Newport Beach, and through my history of speaking and writing have earned a reputation as a unique local government watchdog (--> read more on my About page).
This November 8, I will, for the first time, be on the ballot for citywide election to the Council as our new representative from District 3.
Why am I running for Council?
I sincerely believe that as a Council person I could serve our city's people better than any other choice you have this year. And that 13 years of criticizing the work of previous Councils comes with an obligation to, at least once, offer to attempt to do the job better than they have.
I also feel passionately we need people on Council committed to making our city government more welcoming to all who, like me, have ideas to make it serve us better.
While I recognize you have two other choices from District 3, there is no record that either of them has ever bothered to attend a Council meeting to publicly offer any advice whatsoever to the Council, or to question any action they were about to take. I have. Innumerable times.
The Council did appoint the other leading choice from District 3, a person with no prior planning experience, to our City's Planning Commission in 2015. As a member of the Commission, he has often joined in votes favoring development interests over those of residents.
Early in his service, on October 20, 2016, he voted to recommend the Council approve the Museum House residential tower in Newport Center, later defeated by a voter referendum petition.
Much more recently, this May 12, he seconded the motion for the Commission itself to quietly approve an almost exact clone of the Museum House without seriously questioning how that was possible without voter approval of the land use change as required by Section 423 of our City Charter ("Greenlight"). I attempted to appeal that approval to the City Council for further discussion, but City staff would not allow me to do so.
Most recently, on October 6, he embraced City staff's recommendation to appoint a committee to explore options for legalizing fractional ownership of homes in residential neighborhoods -- a form of timeshare objected to by many residents. This despite past Councils having prohibited all forms of timeshare in residential areas since 1982, and the current Council having asked the Planning Commission to swiftly ensure the definition prohibits the fractional ownership model prompting the resident concerns.
What needs fixing?
By way of explanation, Council-Manager governments like that of Newport Beach are largely run by a hired professional staff. In theory, the Council of elected citizen volunteers exists primarily to ensure the staff and contractors operate to the public's benefit. That is achieved, again in theory, by the Council enacting and maintaining the policy framework within which the staff operates, with a goal of treating all equally and without favoritism.
All too often, rather than serving as policy-adjusting overseers of the administrative staff, Council members begin seeing themselves as mini-City Managers, deeply enmeshing themselves in the minutia of service delivery, and begin to see themselves as members of "the team," selling the staff efforts to the public.
This creates a vacuum in which the staff begins proposing the policies that will govern itself and the Council, too busy pursuing constituent services to bother with the details, merely rubberstamps them. Such an arrangement rarely yields the best results for the average citizen. It is certainly not government "by the people."
In addition, I have seen the Council meetings become less welcoming to citizen participation than they were when I started watching. They have been moved to afternoon hours, the time for public comments has been limited, the public can no longer request separate discussion of most items and even the ability of our elected Council members to put items on the agenda has been reduced.
--> Please refer to my Issues page for some of the many problems I have noticed in my years of Council watching.
Why am I needed on Council?
I have long felt that those citizens who wish to be involved should have a chance to do so, but those who don't should be able to trust that the representatives they have elected to serve on the Council will be watching out for their interests. And doing that job well.
I have seen that lacking in the Councils I have observed.
I seem to be one of the very few with a "trust but verify" attitude who has found the time, energy and developed the know-how to effectively research, question, and often contradict the assertions in staff's proposals to the Council.
I have also observed Councils with much more pro-growth leanings than most residents would like.
I think we need:
• A City government that is welcoming to those who want to become engaged in it.
• For those who don’t have time to be engaged, a City government that works as they would expect it to work if they were engaged.
• A City government that understands growth is not always good or necessary.
But advocating for that from the audience is not very effective.
That voice and attitude is needed on the Council.