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Oaks Initiative

The Oaks Initiative, also known as the "Taxpayer Protection Act," was adopted by Santa Monica voters on November 2000, and amends the City Charter. Article XXII of the Santa Monica City Charter states that City public officials shall not receive personal or campaign advantage from those to whom they allocate public benefits. Its requirements affect all City elected and appointed officials, including Council-appointed board and commission members acting in an official capacity.

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I would like to access city records pertaining to Riel v. City of Santa Monica.

Independent Review of Charter City Best Practices

Latest Information:

John C. Hueston Report (April 18, 2016) - Review and Recommendation of Best Practices for the City of Santa Monica
This report will be presented to Council at its April 26, 2016 meeting.
Media Advisory


At the September 29, 2015 Special Council Meeting, Council authorized funding to hire an outside adviser to conduct an independent review and write an independent report regarding the best practices of California charter cities with a council-manager form of government. This was initiated in the wake of resident concerns about a civil employment lawsuit, Elizabeth Riel v. City of Santa Monica and enforcement of the Oaks Initiative. 

Council agreed that the person(s) hired to conduct the review and write the report were to be selected by Council in open session and have the ability to obtain documents upon request, interview staff, elected officials, appointed officials and third parties as necessary. Council determined that the independent report should be presented at a public meeting.

Councilmembers were asked to submit names of up to two potential advisers by November 1, 2015. Council directed the City Manager to make the list public and to contact persons on the list for availability.

At the November 10, 2015 Council Meeting, Council was provided with a list containing six qualified advisor candidates:

  • Gibson Dunn
  • Harris & Associates
  • John C. Hueston  l
  • Jones Day
  • Raphael Sonenshein
  • Robert M. Stern

Council unanimously selected John C. Hueston to conduct the independent review and authorized the City Manager to negotiate and execute a professional services agreement. Council requested the reviewer provide a preliminary report and scope of work to complete the review. 

In a letter dated December 8, 2015, John C. Hueston submitted for consideration a preliminary report on the recommended areas for review and the scope of that work. At a Special Council Meeting on December 15, 2015 Council authorized City Manager Rick Cole to negotiate and execute a professional service agreement with Hueston Hennigan, LLP, in the amount not to exceed $420,000 in accordance with the proposed scope of work.

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