Council Approves Filming Planning Commission Meetings

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A screenshot from one of SPON’s video recordings of a recent Planning Commission meeting show (left to right) Commissioner Bill Dunlap, Vice Chair Peter Koetting, Chair Kory Kramer, Secretary Peter Zak, and Commissioner Raymond Lawler discuss an item in front of an audience.
A screenshot from one of SPON’s video recordings of a recent Planning Commission meeting show (left to right) Commissioner Bill Dunlap, Vice Chair Peter Koetting, Chair Kory Kramer, Secretary Peter Zak, and Commissioner Raymond Lawler discuss an item in front of an audience.

Newport Beach City Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to direct city staff to start filming Planning Commission meetings.

Staff asked the Council to reconsider their Feb. 23 decision, when they voted 4-2 against the idea.

There was a bit of community backlash over the decision. It prompted the community group Still Protecting Our Newport to film the meetings and then publish them online at SPON’s own expense.

Resident and SPON member Nancy Skinner thanked the council for bringing the item back and supported the idea.

“I think it’s long overdue,” agreed resident Jim Mosher.

The meetings will be available on the city’s website and on the local Newport Beach Television channel.

In February, the Council members considered whether the decorum, tone, pacing, and quality of the Planning Commission meetings would change as a result of filming. And if it did, if it would impair the commission’s role as an appellate body for certain land-use decisions.

According to the recent staff report on the item, Council members also expressed concerns there could be a tendency for Planning Commissioners to speak less concisely/directly to the audience if the meetings were filmed.

In order to remedy their concerns, staff suggested amending the item to include Council Policy A-13, section M, that states that commission members maintain the highest standards of public conduct “especially in regards to filmed meetings, and where an agenda item may later be appealed to another body or involve an appeal of another decision, be cognizant of the need to serve in a adjudicatory role and to be direct and concise in one’s comments, without grandstanding or operating in a manner which may prejudice the rights of the parties.”

Mayor Kevin Muldoon noted that he now supported the item with the new parameters around the commissioners.

Last year, Newport Beach & Company developed a rough, conservative cost estimate of about $4,000 per year based on filming 24, three-hour meetings annually.

NBTV is available to Newport Beach Time Warner Cable customers on channel 3, Cox Communications customers on channel 852 and is live streamed through the city’s website at newportbeachca.gov/nbtv.

 

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