What Are Boards and Commissions?

Boards and Commissions are organizations of knowledgeable local residents who study a specific area of concern. Some committees are mandated by State statute; some are established by County Charter, ordinance or resolution, and some are established through Joint Powers Agreements. These Committees vary in legal status; some have advisory capacity, and some make legally binding decisions. While some advisory groups provide advice to the Board of Supervisors, others advise county departments.

What Are the Requirements for Service?

Living in San Mateo County is the sole requirement for service on most County Boards and Commissions. County employees are permitted to serve provided there is no conflict of interest. Once appointed, a member may serve on one Board or Commission at a time. This is to ensure broad participation. An exception is made when the work of one Board or Commission may impact the work of another. For instance, a member of the Commission on Aging serves as a liaison with the Community Development Committee.

Where Can I Get More Information about Joining a Board or Commission?

Start by contacting person listed on the web page of the Board or Commission you are interested in or by calling the County Executive’s Office at (650) 363-4123. San Mateo County has a number of resources where residents can learn more about the County, the role and operation of County government and the community's priorities.

Vacancies occur year round. To help spread the word about vacancies, news releases citing openings are provided to local newspapers and are sent to various community groups. Notices are also posted on the County's website and public bulletin boards at 400 County Center, Redwood City.

What Are the Appointment Procedures?

The Board of Supervisors appoints and reappoints most members of committees that advise the Board. The County Charter requires this vote at a public meeting.

In most cases, a subcommittee of two Supervisors interviews applicants. However, the subcommittee may initially review applications rather than conduct interviews when more than twelve applications are received for a particular opening. The subcommittee's recommendations are then forwarded to the full Board of Supervisors for consideration.

In some cases, membership on Boards or Commissions is limited to one representative from each of the five supervisorial districts. This is the case for the Planning Commission, the Parks and Recreation Commission, Arts Commission and Civil Service Commission.

Applications are retained for six months.

Under the County Charter, the Board of Supervisors has the discretion to remove an appointee.

Board or Commission members generally serve without compensation, unless otherwise specified by law or by action of the Board of Supervisors.

How Long Can I Serve on a Board or Commission?

A typical term is four years. Members may serve up to three complete terms unless a specific exemption is made by the Board of Supervisors or state law.

Members whose terms have expired may continue to serve until they are re-appointed or the Board of Supervisors appoints a replacement. If a member seeks re-appointment, the normal interview process will take place only at the request of a County Supervisor.

What Are the Rules that Apply?

The Board of Supervisors has adopted a resolution describing the standing rules for County Boards, Commission and Advisory committees.