Should Long Beach City Council meetings be shorter? One councilman says yes

Gadflies rejoice! Long Beach City Council meetings could one day have a curfew.

Tuesday-night regulars know the drill: An agenda item comes before the council. The public is invited to comment and each speaker is limited to three minutes. Council members then engage in lengthy discussions and comments that can last late into the night and even into the early morning hours.

But one councilperson is hoping for a change.

Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw has proposed streamlining meetings to improve public participation.

Supernaw said he’d like to see shorter meetings out of concern that some important public business is discussed in the late-night hours of long meetings, after many people have gone to bed.

The City Council meets at 5 p.m. each Tuesday except for the last Tuesday of the month. Average meetings run about four hours and 20 minutes. But one third of meetings so far this year have run more than six hours, wrapping up around 11:30 p.m., Supernaw said.

Last month’s meeting where the council approved the annual city budget went past 1 a.m., and most watchers missed some late-night drama when four council members walked out in protest over a controversial ordinance to provide panic buttons for hotel workers.

Supernaw is asking the city to explore options and look to other municipalities for best practices for streamlining meetings.

Options could include setting a meeting curfew, tracking time and setting time limits for council members’ comments, adding structure to the public comment process and receiving staff reports prior to the meeting.

The council is set to discuss the issue on Oct. 23.

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].