Residents interested in hearing deliberations of the Newport Beach Planning Commission will have to continue coming to the Civic Center because of a recent decision by the City Council not to broadcast the panel’s meetings.
The City Council voted 4-2 on Monday not to broadcast the meetings because, according to the opponents, it is more important to have members of the public attend and share their input.
“You start broadcasting planning commission meetings and there isn’t an incentive for them to come,” said Councilman Ed Selich. “You should participate and not stay home and watch TV.”
Selich also claimed that televising Planning Commission tends to politicize the meetings and create a lower quality of decision making.
Newport Beach & Company, the city’s contractor for NBTV programming, estimated the cost of televising 24 three-hour meetings at $3,600 per year.
Councilman Tony Petros passionately defended the idea of making meetings more accessible for those who can’t attend. He downplayed to notion that televising the Planning Commission would open the panel up to grandstanding.
“We should have no fear of any part of government being exposed to the public because it belongs to the public,” Petros said.
Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield said that during his time on the Harbor Commission he would listen to members of the public and often be swayed by their comments or come to believe their ideas were better than his.
“I think it is more important to be here and be heard,” he said.
Despite claims of the importance of public comment, the few audience members who spoke on the issue were all in favor of broadcasting the Planning Commission.
“I think it’s very important that we can all be involved without necessarily being here,” Elizabeth Cook said.