October 31, 2014 at 5:21 pm
The council as a legislative body has the ultimate authority to adopt or amend rules addressing the amount of time afforded citizen speakers. If the council has not adopted any such rules, it can do so now; if it has adopted such rules, it can amend them now. It may be that the council is unaware of its authority in this regard, or aware but for some reason unwilling to exercise that authority.
Here is what the Attorney General has said about time limits under the Brown Act.
“What is a ‘reasonable’ period of time for public discussion will, in our view, necessarily vary with the facts and circumstances in each case. The time allocated for the meeting, the number of agenda items, the complexity of each item, and the number of persons wishing to address the legislative body on each item of general public interest would require consideration.
“We conclude that (the Brown Act) vests the legislative body of a local public agency with wide discretion concerning the adoption of regulations limiting the time at its meetings for public testimony on each issue and for each speaker. A limitation of five minutes or less for each speaker would be valid, depending upon the particular circumstances. . .
“In so concluding, we note that if the time limitation is formally adopted as a general rule of procedure, the limitation may be waived where necessary or appropriate pursuant to the usual rules governing deliberative bodies. (See Robert’s Rules of Order (Rev. 1970) § 61, subd. (c), p. 114; Mason, Manual of Legislative Procedure (1975) § 23, pp. 43-44.)”
If the one-minute rule were challenged in court, I believe a judge would find it in violation of the Brown Act as not “reasonable”, prohibit its enforcement and order the city to pay the challenger’s court costs and attorney fees.