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By Jorge Casuso
February 21, 2019 -- Known for its lengthy meetings, the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on ways to streamline public testimony, including limiting a speakers' time under certain circumstances.
The key proposal would limit individual remarks to one minute -- instead of the usual two -- when 15 or more members of the public testify on a single item or if 40 or more "wish to speak on any combination of items," staff said in its report.
Staff is also recommending reducing the the amount of speaking time that can be donated to a member of the public to one minute and allowing speakers who use one minute to speak before those who use two.
"For larger than normal City Council meetings, members of the public have expressed their dissatisfaction with the wait, process, and long hours to address the Council," City staff wrote in its report.
Participants came prepared to share their comments in a succinct fashion and stayed within the allotted one-minute time limit," staff wrote.
This is not the first time the Council strives to curtail the length of meeting that routinely go past midnight.
The suggestion was met mostly with dissatisfaction ("Council Ponders How to Make a Shorter Meeting," June 24, 2010).
Later that year, the Council also explored placing a five-minute limit on oral staff reports and using timers to show public speakers and council members how long they had been speaking ("Development Agreements, Length of Meetings on City Council Agenda," September 10, 2010).
Debates over how to shorten Council meetings prompted a memorable remark from former Mayor Bob Holbrook.
Holbrook, a pharmacist who had to be at work early, looked at his colleagues on the dais, who would routinely pontificate until one or two in the morning.
Then he leaned towards the microphone and made a simple acknowledgment.
"Some of my colleagues", he said, "have nocturnal habits."
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