The Long Beach Ethics Commission is looking to host an October public meeting for residents to continue gathering feedback from residents and community groups about its proposed changes to the city’s lobbyist ordinance, which the commission began working on in 2022.

Commissioners were told Wednesday that a tentative date of Oct. 25 has been reserved for a meeting to be held inside the Long Beach Civic Chambers, which city staff said would be best for providing a hybrid option to people who can’t attend in person.

Unlike typical Ethics Commission meetings, this meeting would be held in the evening between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to allow more people to take part.

The commission has been working to rewrite some of the city’s lobbyist ordinance, which requires people lobbying city officials and elected leaders to disclose who they talked to and generally what they talked about. However, the 2010 law has never resulted in any fines or prosecutions.

Its work began in 2022 after a registered lobbyist alleged that nonprofit groups were able to game the system by lobbying for policy changes at city hall without having to register with the city clerk or disclose their contacts with city officials. Nonprofits are currently exempted from the city’s law.

When the Ethics Commission released its first draft of proposed changes in March that recommended that nonprofits and neighborhood associations be required to register with the city, as well as recommending that “advocacy” be included under the umbrella of lobbying, it was met by dozens of nonprofit groups who denounced the proposal.

Commissioners agreed to remove neighborhood groups but have yet to decide if nonprofits, which are already required to file lobbying activity with the IRS to maintain their tax-exempt status, will be required to do the same in Long Beach in the future.

The point of the October meeting is to get more testimony from the public before the commission potentially reworks its recommendations and potentially votes to refer them to the City Council. The council is ultimately the body that would have to approve any amendments to the law.

When the commission met in July, some commissioners expressed that they’d like to continue at least talking about the future of nonprofits and if they’d need to disclose their contacts with city officials. Others indicated that they’d like to see the burden of reporting shifted to elected politicians and city officials.

Nonprofits, neighborhood groups push back against rule that would regulate them as lobbyists

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.