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How long is a Commissioner's term?
What is the purpose of Boards and Commissions?
What are Boards and Commissions?
How many Commissions are there?
Can anyone apply to be on a Board or Commission?
How will I know when there is a vacancy?
How can I apply?
Do Commissioners receive any compensation for serving?
Q: How long is a Commissioner's term?
Commissioners generally are appointed for a four-year term. A Commissioner’s term expires on June 30th and usually overlaps so the term of at least one member of each Commission may expire every year. New terms start on July 1st. The City Council may reappoint an existing member or fill the vacancy with a new applicant. The maximum time a Commissioner may serve is two consecutive terms for all Commissions except the Youth Commission who serve for a one-year term with a maximum of 4 years (4 terms). If an individual is appointed to fill a partial term (if someone resigns mid-term), he or she may still serve two additional terms of office. After a lapse of at least two years, an individual is eligible to reapply to serve on the same Commission and the same application process would apply as for individuals who have never served. Individuals may apply to serve on a different Commission once their term of office expires for their current commitment.
Q: What is the purpose of Boards and Commissions?
The purpose of City Commissions is to hold public meetings about issues related to their respective fields. They also recommend policies and procedures related to their respective fields to the City Council. Commissioners serve as an intermediary between the public, City staff, and the City Council by providing information, explanation, and support for different points of view. Commissioners exemplify the City of Santa Clara’s mission statement, which is “to promote a living and working environment that allows for the best quality of life by serving the community with resourceful, efficient, progressive and professional leadership.”
Q: What are Boards and Commissions?
Boards and Commissions (referred to collectively as “City Commissions”) play a critical role in the City of Santa Clara. They serve as a conduit for citizen input – a way of gathering, analyzing, and recommending options to the City Council, which has the final responsibility for making policy decisions. City staff can provide professional and technical expertise and, of course, any citizen can come before the City Council to offer an opinion or make a suggestion. Santa Clara’s City Commissions provide another important avenue for determining the community’s feeling about an issue. The individuals who serve on the City’s Commissions are among the most well respected and appreciated volunteers in the community.
Q: How many Commissions are there?
There are 9 different boards and commissions:
Board of Library Trustees: Advises the City Council on issues related to the operation of the Santa Clara Public Library. (5 members)
Civil Service Commission: Advises the City Council on matters pertaining to Civil Service rules and regulations and serves as a Board of Review to hear petitions by Civil Service employees and applicants.
(5 members)
Cultural Advisory Commission: Advises the City Council on cultural enrichment and beautification.
(7 members)
Historical and Landmarks Commission: Advises the City Council on historical landmarks, names and renaming of streets, and the marking and preservation of historical landmarks. (7 members)
Housing Rehabilitation Loan Committee: Reviews projects and issues related to the Community Services Division Neighborhood Conservation and Improvement Program (NCIP) which utilizes federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Act Program monies to rehabilitate homes of low to moderate income homeowners who reside within the City limits. (4 members)
Parks and Recreation Commission: Advises the City Council on parks, recreation, playgrounds and entertainment. (7 members)
Planning Commission: Makes recommendations to the City Council on land subdivisions, zoning as prescribed by ordinance, and other land use matters related to the physical development of the City.
(7 members)
Senior Advisory Commission: Advises the City Council on issues affecting people age 50 and older in Santa Clara. (7 members)
Youth Commission: Advises the City Council on community programs for youth and teens and encourages youth involvement in local government. (15 members)
Q: Can anyone apply to be on a Board or Commission?
The City Charter requires that all members of City commissions be residents and qualified electors in the City of Santa Clara (Section 1004). While membership on a Commission requires no definite qualifications, there are desirable characteristics which the City Council looks for as they review applications. These characteristics include: being familiar with the community, being familiar with the major issues of the commission, having knowledge of the commission, and having a commitment to serve.
Q: How will I know when there is a vacancy?
When a vacancy on a Commission occurs, the City Manager’s Office staff prepares a press release which is distributed to all local media, including: the Santa Clara Weekly, Channel 15, the City’s website, and eNotify. In addition, the vacancy is announced during a City Council meeting, and copies of the announcement are sent to those individuals on a list of interested parties. Anyone may have their name added to the list of interested parties to be notified; this list is kept by the City Clerk’s Office.
Q: How can I apply?
Applications for vacancies are obtained from the City Clerk's Office or online at the City’s website. Completed applications must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office at 1500 Warburton Avenue or via email at Three to four weeks after the vacancy announcement, the completed applications are forwarded to the City Council in regular agenda packets for public review. The City Council interviews all applicants (except for the Youth Commission). The official appointment of Commissioners is made at a City Council meeting by at least four affirmative votes of the City Council. Submitted applications are kept confidential until placed on the Council agenda for consideration, at which time applications are made public in its entirety.
Here are some tips:
• Type or neatly print your application. Staff must be able to read your application in order to process it efficiently.
• Answer all questions on the application. The City Council reviews your application to get an understanding of your background and experience, and what skills and talents you believe you could bring to a particular Commission. Do not forget to sign your application.
• Attend one or two meetings of the Commission for which you are applying. Find out what kinds of issues the Commission is currently facing and what issues may be coming in the future. Review the minutes of the Commission’s meetings which are available in the City Clerk’s Office.
• Talk to Commissioners. Contact the City Clerk’s office or visit the City’s website at for a roster of Commissioners. Commissioners can share with you their experience on the Commission, give you an estimate of the time commitment involved in serving on a Commission, and share with you what they see as current and future issues for the Commission.
• Talk to City Staff Liaisons to the Commission. Listed on the above-mentioned roster is a City staff liaison who is assigned to work with a particular Commission. The City staff liaison serves as a good resource in learning more about the function and role of serving as a Commissioner. (City staff cannot recommend or lobby for any applicant for a Commission).
• Find out City Council’s priorities and interests. Attend City Council meetings and review meeting minutes. Contact the City Clerk’s Office for a schedule of meetings or visit
• Review the Code of Ethics for Appointed and Elected Officials. Included in your application materials will be a copy of the Code of Ethics. Review it and understand that if you are appointed to a Commission, you will be required to abide by it.
• Prepare for the interview. Although we do not know what specific questions the City Council will ask, it is suggested that you clarify for yourself why you are applying for a specific Commission, understand the role and function of the Commission, and be familiar with the current issues it is examining.
• Treat the interview with the City Council like a business interview. Professional business dress is appropriate. Understand that the City Council is not only considering what experience, skills and talents you bring to a Commission, but also how well you can represent the City.
Q: Do Commissioners receive any compensation for serving?
There is no monetary compensation or benefits for Commissioners.