Voice of OC – Irvine City Council Looks to Gut Transparency Rules, Shorten Public Comment Amid Pushback

Voice of OC — “Irvine City Council members on Tuesday are set to discuss removing many of the public transparency measures their predecessors installed, clearing the way to limit residents’ chances to speak at the meeting and hamstring other council members’ comments.”

“For years, the city has had one of the strongest open meeting policies in Orange County under the Sunshine Ordinance, which was introduced by former City Manager John Russo shortly after he arrived in 2018.”

This policy change would leave Irvine with one of the worst open meeting policies, particularly when it comes to giving members of the public a voice and an opportunity to be heard.

Read entire Voice of OC article, Irvine City Council Looks to Gut Transparency Rules, Shorten Public Comment Amid Pushback. 

How Things Would Change (Taken from Irvine Watchdog article, Darkness In The Afternoon: City Council Poised to Gut Sunshine Ordinance, Sharply Restrict Public Comments)

  • The current 12-day requirement for advance publication of regular meeting agendas would be slashed to seven days.
  • The agenda could be supplemented or amended up to three days before the meeting instead of the present five days.
  • For special meetings, the agenda could be published as little as 24 hours in advance (the bare minimum required by the Brown Act) instead of the current five days.
  • There would no longer be separate public comment periods for individual agenda items. Instead, there would be a single period for all public comments, regardless of their subject matter.
  • All public comments would be heard early in the meeting, after the Pledge of Allegiance, invocation and presentations, but before reports and announcements. This would likely occur around 4:30-5:00 p.m. at most Council meetings, while many residents are still at work or commuting from work.
  • Each person would have only one opportunity per meeting to speak, regardless of the number of agenda items the speaker wished to address.
  • The amount of time permitted each speaker would depend on the total number of speakers. The current three-minute limit would apply only if there were 20 or less speakers. If there were 21 to 30 speakers, the individual time limit would shrink to two minutes. If there were more than 30 speakers, each individual would get only 90 seconds.
  • Thus, the total time for all public comments on all issues would be no more than 40 to 60 minutes at most meetings. However, the Mayor and the Council would have discretion to expand or reduce time limits on public comments.

What You Can Do

  1. Email the City Council at [email protected]. Include “Item 5.1” in subject line.
  2. Make a public comment in-person this Tuesday.
  3. Make a public comment via Zoom this Tuesday (instructions here)
  4. Submit an e-Comment here.
  5. Sign the petition here.
  6. Share with your Irvine friends and neighbors.