Morro Bay City Council changes rules governing public comment

The Morro Bay City Council Tuesday voted unanimously to improve the public’s opportunity to comment on items before the council.

Mayor Jamie Irons put an item on Tuesday’s agenda to amend the council’s meeting policies and procedures to take public comment at the time a specific item is discussed. The changes make Morro Bay’s public comment policies similar to other municipalities in the county, he said.

“This change in policy is something I am proud of and affords our community the proper time to weigh in on issues and provide council with public input at the time the item is being discussed,” Irons said.

Before the changes, Morro Bay conducted its public comment only at the beginning of council meetings, allowing only three minutes to speak on all items on the agenda except public hearing items. The old policy limited the public to three minutes to speak at the beginning of a meeting on consent items, business items, and general public input.

“The new policy will now provide three minutes for the public to speak on general comments or concerns - items not on the agenda - three minutes for consent items, three minutes for business items, and three minutes for hearing items,” Irons said.

Public comments at government hearings have been a contentious issue lately. The San Luis Coastal Unified School District board limited public comment to 20 minutes on a proposal to make changes at Teach Elementary School, a move that drew an angry response from the public.

County Supervisors Bruce Gibson recently urged his colleagues to have a discussion about limiting public comment at supervisors’ meetings. Gibson said public comment was taking up too much time, particularly on days when the agenda is full, and suggested limiting repetitious and irrelevant comments.