The Bend City Council has failed to approve a change to city code that would have allowed members of the city’s Landmarks Commission to serve three four-year terms. Five members of the council took part in the vote, and two opposed it. Council rules require approval by four members to move such a change forward.
The commission may not be the best known city body, to be sure. It advises the council on issues that may have an impact on local landmarks, and it holds hearings on some matters involving the city’s development code. That code covers zoning and other development issues inside the city.
Currently, voting members of the commission are limited to two terms; the change in code was sought to help make certain there were enough qualified applicants to fill the four vacancies the commission will have at the beginning of 2020.
It’s no doubt true that some members of the commission should have more than a passing knowledge of such things as architecture and its history, folklore and archaeology. Some of what the commission does can be accomplished more easily if there are experts among its members.
At the same time, however, it’s useful to have new blood on any public body, be it the city’s Landmarks Commission or the board that governs Deschutes County’s Rural Fire Protection District No. 2. New members often bring with them new ideas and a different way of looking at old problems.
Change on governing bodies, in other words, is, generally, a good thing, though it’s also true that replacing everyone on a board or commission at once might create problems at least for a time. Councilors should keep that in mind if they’re considering revisiting the now-dead proposal to add four more years to landmarks commission members who’d like to hang around that long.