|(Feb. 4, 2021, 6:15 p.m.) -- Without explicitly saying so, Mayor Robert Garcia has signaled that he favors City Council discussion of using Council Committees to curtail or eliminate Long Beach residents' ability to address the full City Council if an agenda item has been first heard by a three-Councilmember committee. .
Mayor Garcia avoided saying exactly what he favors on the hot button issue but it's plausibly inferred. He spoke in advocacy terms of changing Council rules to allow more in-depth Council discussion and "streamlining" proceedings. He noted that the procedure is used by other major cities. No Councilmembers responded publicly to Garcia's signaled suggestion. It is consistent with a suggestion that management first brought to the Council in March 2019 and approved in May 2019, although not implemented...yet..
A March 1, 2019 memo then-City Manager Pat West responded to an Oct. 2018 request by Councilman Daryl Supernaw for ways to "streamline" (shorten) Council meetings. Staff's suggestions included "Increase use of City Council Committees to hear public comment Staff recommends a greater use of City Council Committees to receive public input on issues for which significant public comment is expected. The City Council can refer any item to Committee for discussion and debate. If opportunity has been provided at the Committee level for significant public comment, public comment on that same is sue at the City Council meeting could be limited (e.g., one minute, 90 seconds)."
On May 14, 2021 the Council approved a series of measures 9-0 including "Increase use of City Council Committees to hear public comment for large and controversial items."
The Brown Act lets cities allow greater public rights than the Brown Act's Sacramento-written minimums. The City of Long Beach has long allowed full public testimony on all Council agenda items although the Brown Act allows less. Mayor Garcia is now signaling that he favors allowing less.
In CA Gov't Code section 54954.3, the Brown Act provides this minimum [bold font added for clarity]
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The Los Angeles City Council already applies this minimum standard. If an item has been heard in an LA Council committee, the public can't speak to it at the full City Council meeting.
In recent years, various Long Beach Mayors and Councils have reduced the public's ability to participate in Council meetings (although incumbents routinely claim to support increased public participation.)
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