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Council to review comment time

Laura Sturza

Burbank residents have always had the right to address the City

Council during its meetings, but they often haven’t been sure how to,

or even when.

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To clear up confusion, the council this week agreed to review the

existing public-comment policy -- expanded from three to four

public-comment periods in June 2001 -- at the request of Councilman

Dave Golonski, who said the previous process provided greater

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flexibility.

That policy allowed people to address the council on any item of

city business for five minutes during a single period at the start of

the meeting.

Under the present policy, the public can address the council

during four comment periods: before closed session; for one minute on

any item of city business following announcements and public

hearings; for four minutes on agenda items; and again on any item of

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city business for three minutes at the end of the meeting.

“Attempting to enforce the restriction on agenda items only has

been problematic at best, and led to a number of debates as to

whether this is on the agenda or not,” Golonski said.

Celeste Francis, who addressed the council during Tuesday’s

meeting, said that many people who are unfamiliar with the system

find it confusing.

“I have had people ask me how oral communications works,” Francis

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said.

Mayor Stacey Murphy opposes a return to the previous policy, but

was willing to consider other options, including stretching the

one-minute period to two, an idea also supported by Councilman Todd

Campbell.

Murphy, though, thinks the present system works pretty well.

“It [seems] to focus us more on agenda items,” she said.

Golonski said the current system has its merits.

“The one-minute oral communications [period] at least gives you a

guarantee that you can get your comment in and get out of here by no

later than 8 p.m.,” Golonski said. “There have been times in the past

when oral communications could run until ...10 at night.”

After hearing at least four different proposals Tuesday night,

City Atty. Dennis Barlow said that he would return to the council

next month with an array of options, as well as comparisons of

policies in nearby cities.


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