Los Angeles Times

Council decides: Here's what could get you kicked out of meetings

Earlier this month, approval on the first reading for a Costa Mesa ordinance regulating permissible conduct at public meetings garnered some two hours of debate and discussion.

On Tuesday, the approval took less than two minutes.

With a 4-1 vote, the council expedited its second reading of the ordinance that codifies a list of disorderly behaviors that could potentially get attendees kicked out of meetings.

As she did during the July 1 first reading, Councilwoman Wendy Leece dissented.

The behaviors include speaking out of turn, speaking longer than the permissible three minutes or throwing objects at council members. Enforcement would begin with a warning and could proceed to a ban or misdemeanor charge.

Earlier this month, the council took out using profanity or being "unduly repetitive" in public comments as disorderly behaviors, a decision that took the steam out of some public speakers who were going to argue that being repetitive is a First Amendment right.

Still, Leece contended during the July 1 meeting that the rules would have a "chilling effect" on free expression, effectively putting people "on notice" because "you better think twice because you might be arrested."

The ordinance came as a result of a recent federal court ruling that Costa Mesa's previous description of unpermitted speech was unconstitutional.

That code banned "personal, impertinent, profane, insolent or slanderous remarks."


Annexation delay

The council unanimously voted to postpone its annexation effort of Santa Ana/Colleen Island, a nearly 14-acre parcel of unincorporated land abutting the Eastside that has about 150 residents.

Mayor Jim Righeimer called for city staff to arrange a meeting with Santa Ana/Colleen residents and the developer of a roughly 2-acre vacant parcel there.

Righeimer said he and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger recently met with Santa Ana/Colleen residents there, who expressed concerns about setback spacing on any new homes.

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