City Council Revamps Meeting Procedures

New M.O. Seeks to Streamline Meetings and Increase Government Transparency

The Santa Barbara City Council passed a resolution amending the city’s municipal code Tuesday that aims to revamp the governing body’s rules of procedure and meeting structure. An ad hoc committee of Councilmembers Cathy Murillo, Bendy White, and Frank Hotchkiss teamed up with City Attorney Ariel Calonne and City Clerk Gwen Peirce to “improve and streamline public participation in council meetings and add several important due process, government transparency, and sunshine protections.”

While the previous procedures relied on the popular but outdated Robert’s Rules of Order — nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. Military engineer Henry Martyn Robert’s guide to legislative procedure — the newly adopted system is based on the more modern, streamlined Rosenberg’s Rules of Order for the 21st Century, more recently written by former Yolo County Superior Court Judge Dave Rosenberg.

Among the major modifications are increased public comment time, the elimination of time limits on council deliberations and council appeal hearings, the establishment of the power to censure for procedures violations, and policies to deter ex parte contacts — communication between one party and a Councilmember when the opposing party is not present — to ensure government transparency.

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