OCEANSIDE — City Council voted to limit council member comments to 10 minutes per item, and to do away with council reports on Wednesday.
The rule to limit council members’ speaking time seemed to be directed at Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, who is known to speak at length and is the sole woman on the council.
Prior to council discussion several residents opposed the time limit, voicing their support for Sanchez, and said she informs them about the city history behind items.
“Some issues require extensive comments and background information,” Oceanside resident Jimmy Knott said.
Knott added it is a scientific fact that women need to talk longer than men.
No residents spoke in favor of the time limit.
Mayor Jim Wood recommended the speaking limit.
He said he has received complaints from residents about the two to three minute time limit for public speakers, and no limit for council members.
Wood and fellow council members said other meeting bodies have time limits of three to five minutes for representatives in order to keep discussions on schedule.
The council majority agreed 10 minutes is sufficient time to speak about most items, and more time can be requested.
Sanchez voted against the time restriction, and for discontinuing council reports.
She said putting limits on discussions reduces government transparency.
“It’s a violation of our commitment to the community for transparency, residents need to know why we say yes and why we say no,” Sanchez said.
Councilman Jerry Kern said council dialogue would continue to be transparent and open going forward.
During discussions Wood and Sanchez got into a public squabble when Sanchez said Wood made the recommendation in order for him to “get home sooner.”
Wood immediately replied, “I don’t want to sit here all night listening to you.”
Later, Wood said council meetings, which are scheduled to end by 9 p.m., run out of time to discuss items and time management needs to be addressed.
Fellow council members suggested that community recognitions and staff reports could also be briefer.
Council members were initially split on whether to discontinue council reports.
Others said council commission liaison information is shared, and reports should continue.
The council majority agreed to discontinue the reports, with the knowledge that council members could make a request to share information.