Sherryl L. Parks | Kalamath Drive
If you attend Del Mar City Council meetings you may know already about the minor changes in how the meetings are run. In September the Council voted to tweak the way the meeting agendas are organized. Instead of having a ‘7 o’clock Time Certain’ they renamed it ‘Oral Communications – Not on the Agenda’ and it is not at 7 pm.
Sandpiper asked Council Member Terry Sinnott about this change. In the past, he said, “We would be going along, discussing an item and then found we had to stop to allow for ‘7 o’clock Time Certain.’ It was like having a rock in the middle of the road – we had to change directions!” Now we find a logical break in the agenda items and then open to “Oral Communications.”
Oral communication works well. In these few minutes, during the public meeting, the Council welcomes comments about any subject of concern to our community. Many issues that Council is not aware of are outlined and disclosed. While the Council cannot respond, they do listen and oftentimes we find these very issues on agendas at subsequent Council meetings. Public comment has had a long-standing and important role in our City’s governance. The change has sparked disagreement among those who favor and those who oppose.
Some agree that this change in managing the business of the council helps to make the Council meetings run more smoothly yet urge the council to help the public get used to this new format. Like any good teacher who reminds students of changes, the council should feel compelled to remind the public how/when Oral Communications will be held at the meeting. Since Oral Communications can occur anytime in the meeting, Council watchers need to be prepared to come down to speak. A good mayor might warn the public ahead of when Oral Communications are likely to happen at the meeting.
Some disagree saying the question is whether the Council is making it easier for them to do business or for the public to do business with the Council. Ultimately, the Council meets to do business for the public not to run efficient meetings. While the change is slight and may not affect the public comment, the message to the public is that efficiency in government is more important than serving the people.
Del Mar City Council meets the first and third Mondays of the month starting at 6:00 p.m. Council meetings are occasionally held on the second Mondays and/or special meetings are called. Agenda items are posted on the City’s website
You can sign up to receive an email notification for City Council Agendas as well. You can follow the Del Mar City Council meetings on Time Warner Channel 124 or attend the meetings in person at the Del Mar TV Communications Building behind City Hall.