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Council tools with testimony rules

Friday, April 8, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

City Council took a tentative step yesterday toward reining in the type of epic public testimony that devours the clock and leads to the marathon meetings that have become a trademark of sorts at City Hall. On Thursday evening, Council unanimously approved on first reading a proposal that would place limits on the length of testimony allowed at both regular meetings and at committee meetings. As amended by Council Member Greg Casar, the ordinance states that residents and stakeholders would be allowed only a cumulative 90 minutes to weigh in on any given item. Casar cited as an example of the necessity for the change a recent meeting of the Planning and Neighborhoods Committee during which testimony on short-term rentals lasted for hours. The proposed changes to the city code allow for both Council and its committees to vote to extend testimony on individual items. Mayor Steve Adler noted that further revisions could be made to the proposal before it comes back for a third and final reading. As an example, he suggested restricting the deadline for speakers to sign up for testimony to the beginning of any meeting. Although she voted for the item on first reading, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo pledged to oppose any changes that would make it more difficult for potential speakers to register.

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