Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How We Spent 5 Hours, 40 Minutes

Our City Council is notorious for long meetings. A couple of months ago, we moved the start time for our meetings from 7 pm to 6 pm in hopes of finishing our meetings earlier, so that everybody doesn't have to stay up to the middle of the night.

Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. Last night (July 14th), it didn't work. Even with one councilmember (Carl Morehouse) missing, we met until 11:40 p.m.

What did we spend 5 hours and 40 minutes doing? Here's what:

Preliminaries (roll call, pledge, presentations, council communications, regional reports): 30 minutes.

Public Communication: 30 minutes. It was "First Monday," when we take public speakers at the beginning of the meeting and allow them 3 minutes each. We had 9 speakers -- some regulars, some we had never seen before.

City Manager Report: 10 minutes. This wasn't on the agenda originally, but we added it so that we could hear a report on the City's investments in Freddie Mac bonds.

Consent Agenda: 6 minutes. This consists of many smaller items that do not require discussion.

Council Advisory Group Appointments: Less than 5 minutes.

Code Enforcement: 90 minutes. This was a policy discussion about whether to require city inspections on resale homes and rentals. The staff came to us with some ideas but really wanted a discussion. I did not time the staff presentation but I'm guessing 15 minutes at least. We heard from only 5 speakers. In the end, we adopted the staff recommendation with one minor change.

By now it was 10 until 9. We had been meeting for almost three hours.

10-minute break: 15 minutes.

Fair Board presentation: 5 minutes. This was a presentation of the County Fair poster.

Item 12: Sewer and Water Rates. 40 minutes, including a staff presentation of almost 20 minutes. There were no public speakers and we approved the staff recommendation. This too was an important policy discussion about where our water and sewer rates are going and how we can or should reach out to our ratepayers about coming rate increases.

Item 13: Green Streets: 90 minutes. again including a staff report of almost 20 minutes. There were 4 public speakers. We had earlier asked the Public Works staff to come up with a plan to "green" our streets. The discussion involved a demonstration project on South Catalina Street, as well as implications for stomwater runoff, which is a big deal. Probably the most important item on the agenda, and it started up shortly before 10 pm.

By now it was almost 11:30.

Item 14: Fuel conservation: 15 minutes. This was an update by the staff on fuel conservation efforts for the city's operations.

Item 15: Low Impact Development: 7 minutes. This was a request from Councilmember Brennan that we endorse the Ocean Protection Council's "low impact development" stormwater runoff principles.

So there you go. That's how we spent almost 6 hours. My personal opinion is that nothing coherent ever gets done past 10, and we should work harder to end our meetings at about 10 pm. But you can see that, every week, a huge number of issues comes flying at us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Want to comment on my blog? Leave me a message here!