At the Feb. 8 city council meeting, an important topic of discussion was regarding ceding time for public comment. At previous council meetings citizens were allowed to cede their time to speak to another speaker. Currently the Yucaipa city rules establish standards of three minutes per speaker and do not address or expressly allow speakers to cede their time. The allowance of ceding time, in the past practice, has been at the discretion of the mayor or presiding officer who can take into account whether a speaker is presenting as a representative of a group.
In many other surrounding cities, the public is not allowed to cede their time to another speaker.
Assistant City Manager Jennifer Crawford said, “Currently the rules do not address or allow speakers to cede their time to another speaker and it has been up to the discretion of the mayor or presiding officer.”
The city reached out to other cities in California to gather input on processes/procedures for ceding time for public comment. The city received 14 responses from the cities of Apple Valley, Berkeley, Chowchilla, El Cerrito, Highland, Irwindale, Monrovia, Morgan Hill, Oceanside, Orange, Redlands, Santa Monica, South Lake Tahoe and Sunnyvale. Six of the cities did not allow ceding of time, four cities permit ceding of time and four leave it up to the discretion of the mayor and do not have a formal policy.
“In addition, we did get a response from the county of San Bernardino today,” said Crawford. “They also do not allow ceding of time. They do allow three minutes per speaker on consent, department reports and public hearings but they do cap it at 12 minutes.”
Mayor Greg Bogh said, “When you are up here, people don’t finish exactly at three minutes.”
Bogh continued with, “They may finish a couple sentences later and you want to give them that opportunity but then there are some that just take advantage of it, so it is tough. You really don’t want to be rude and you want to hear their comments and you don’t want to cut them off. You are not sure exactly when to cut them off so it’s not a perfect system.”
Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Duncan said, “So three minutes is all they should have on any given item and they should never be allowed to cede time to somebody else, in my humble opinion.”
“I would like to see people show up here and instead of talking about Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, talk about the rezoning of their property if they’ve got 2 acres to 600 apartment complexes. I’d like to see them show up and complain about that, but I think three minutes is plenty. They should never be allowed to cede time to somebody else,” said Duncan.
Councilmember David Avila said, “I believe that we should have a three minute limit with latitude of the presiding elected official to give to the speaker based on, as the mayor indicated, time to maybe help the person finish their thought or if there is enough compelling information to suggest that we want to hear more then extend the time but basically it is three minutes and we don’t cede to anybody else because that can drag on for too long.”
Councilmember Jon Thorp said, “I would agree that three minutes I think is sufficient, with your discretion, to wrap up their time.”
Councilmember Justin Beaver said, “I think we watched this at the last meeting take place and it was at the discretion of the mayor. I agree, three minutes, no ceding of time and mayor’s discretion.”
Beaver made a motion for staff to return with a resolution that provides regulations to three minutes of time per speaker with mayor or presiding officer’s approval to extend time after the three minutes, with no ceding of time to another person. The item was seconded and approved unanimously.
Crawford clarified that staff will return to council with an amendment of the resolution that a person will not be allowed to cede their time and the rest of the resolution will stay the same.
View documents at yucaipa.org.
Yucaipa City Hall is located at 34272 Yucaipa Blvd., Yucaipa. The phone number is 1-909-797-2489.