Last night I was able to attend the Carpinteria City Council meeting in-person to discuss a resolution for the city to enter into a lease development and disposition agreement with developers that would allow public property to be used for private development. Everyone who attended or watched on TV had a front row seat to how our democracy works.

The city staff presented their report, then the developers had their turn and then the most important constituents, the public, had a chance to provide comments. All of that was done in a very respectful manner. Then our elected representatives, the City Council, had their chance to speak and comment before a motion was presented to vote on the resolution. All the elements were there for the democratic process of how representative government works.

Throughout the discussions, there was the mention of an initiative that has begun to circulate around town for registered voters to sign a petition to bring the issue to a vote. If enough signatures are gathered and certified by the Santa Barbara County Board of Elections, then the ultimate decision making is made by the citizens, and not the City Council.

The initiative process is part of the state of California Constitution, and for a valid reason: to protect a minority position from being voted in against the will of the majority. This is another critical piece of our democracy where the impassioned opinion of a City Council member will count exactly the same as our neighbors.

So, let’s all join in and sign the petition and bring it to a vote of all city residents, and not only five council members. Whatever the result is will be accepted by all, for that is the core principle of our democracy.