L.A. County supervisors to review public comment proposal
After fierce criticism from community activists and government watchdog groups, Los Angeles County supervisors pulled back for more study Tuesday a measure that would limit public comment at their weekly meetings.
The resolution, written by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, would give the board’s chairman the discretion to ask speakers to consolidate their remarks on public agenda items to a single three-minute period. Residents can now address the board multiple times during each meeting.
Yaroslavsky, who took over as chairman last month, also proposed reducing the amount of time constituents have to address the board on items not on the agenda.
Supervisors have long grumbled that public speakers either wander off topic or ramble on about too many agenda items. When Yaroslavsky became chairman, he outlined several goals, including streamlining public comment.
The move drew an outcry from citizens who regularly attend the meetings and letters of concern from several organizations, including Californians Aware, an open government group.
Yaroslavsky said the board has the right to limit comments to make meetings more efficient. He said most speakers limit their comments to one item but noted that a few regular board watchers sign up for multiple topics at each meeting.
“It’s the same two people every week,” he said.
Still, Yaroslavsky said “we need to clear the air,” and he referred the resolution back to county attorneys for further review.
“I don’t think it serves any useful purpose to jam something through,” he said.
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