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Municipal Advisory Councils

Municipal Advisory Councils (MACs) are authorized in Section 31010 of the California Government Code.  These councils can take on planning and zoning responsibilities on behalf of a county for a specific community, and they can serve as a community forum for municipal issues.  Section 31010 allows MACs to advise Supervisors to determine a MAC’s scope concerning services provided to an unincorporated area by the county. There is no statewide consistency as to the role of MACs.

Section 31010 states that a MAC may be appointed or elected, leaving the decision to the county as to how MAC members are selected. Though advisory, an elected MAC speaks for the people that elected them, rather than for the Supervisor who made their appointments.

Unincorporated area residents face multiple venues for an issue that would be handled by city staff or just one convening body in a city.  For unincorporated communities, MACs typically provide the public with first contact about development proposals that then go to county planning commissions for decisions. Since counties appoint countywide planning commissions with appointees from each Supervisor, non-elected residents outside of an unincorporated community typically make decisions. The concerns of an unincorporated community are thus easily kept at arms length from the Supervisors themselves. Any California community - unincorporated or incorporated - should have the power to make decisions for itself.

Sacramento County calls its MACs County Planning Advisory Commissions (CPACs). This is the Arden Arcade CPAC, appointees of the area's Supervisor. Arden Arcade is a large, socially diverse community of economically disadvantaged and working class neighborhoods and a few privileged neighborhoods. The CPAC consists of white males, almost all of whom reside in the privileged neighborhoods and are lobbyists at the state Capitol. They behave like the corporate officers and elected officials they hang out with - limiting public comments to 2 minutes each, reprimanding commenters who oppose predetermined outcomes, etc. Their meetings are poorly attended.  Their deliberations are largely unknown to the public. County staff deploys them as a tool to defeat public input.


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