File #: REPORT 24-0066    Version: 1 Name:
Type: Action Item Status: Municipal Matter
File created: 2/7/2024 In control: City Council
On agenda: 2/15/2024 Final action:
Attachments: 1. Draft Resolution, 2. Allowance of Remote Participation Survey, 3. Resolution 15-6988, 4. Resolution 15-6988 (REDLINED VERSION), 5. Rosenberg's Rules of Order, 6. SUPPLEMENTAL ecomments for item 9 e(from 1/23/2024 meeting).pdf, 7. SUPPLEMENTAL email for item 9 e (from 1/23/2024 meeting)

Honorable Mayor and Members of the Hermosa Beach City Council                                                                        

Special Meeting of February 15, 2024






(Continued from January 23, 2024)

(City Attorney Patrick Donegan)



Recommended Action:


Staff recommends City Council adopt a resolution amending the rules of conduct at City Council meetings and making these rules, where feasible, applicable to all subsidiary Boards and Commissions in the City (Attachment 1).



Executive Summary:

Since returning to in-person meetings after the COVID-19 pandemic, City Council maintained a modified meeting format allowing remote participation by the public. The use and efficacy of this feature was continually monitored and, along with other format and operational issues pertaining to City Council meetings, was discussed in depth by City Council at its December 12, 2023 meeting. The proposed resolution reflects the direction provided by City Council regarding the format and operations of City Council meetings and directs subsidiary bodies to adhere to these same rules, where feasible.



Consistent with the social distancing mandates and other applicable health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City Council (and other City Boards and Commissions) conducted its meetings solely via Zoom. Emerging from the pandemic, the City Council first instituted hybrid meetings where Council Members could attend either in-person, in City Hall Council Chambers, or remotely. The public was also provided the option to attend in-person or attend and participate via the remote option.


City Council currently meets in-person, subject to the Brown Act’s remote attendance rules when applicable, but still allows members of the public to view and participate (i.e., provide public comments during the various portions of the meeting when called upon) remotely. However, no formal action or policy was adopted by either the City Council or any City Board or Commission related to the use and implementation of remote participation by the public.


At its September 26, 2023 meeting, the City Council was the target of a coordinated attack where multiple members of the public flooded the City’s Zoom meeting requesting to comment. These commenters proceeded to make hateful, bigoted, anti-sematic and sexist remarks intended to disrupt the meeting. These comments were not related to City business in any way and instead were vile attempts to stoke a reaction from City officials and disrupt the City Council’s public meeting. Unfortunately, Hermosa Beach was not alone in that other jurisdictions still allowing remote participation by the public were also victims of these coordinated “Zoom bombs” where similar racist, anti-sematic, bigoted and sexist comments were made in an attempt to disrupt the meeting.


Since that September 26, 2023 City Council meeting, the Zoom live comment participation function has not been provided at City Board and Commission meetings, but residents and members of the public can still view the meetings via Zoom as well as other technology based platforms listed on the agenda. Remote participation was suspended for a variety of reasons including the lack of City staff required to monitor and handle such a coordinated attack, should it occur at a Board or Commission meeting. The public was still able to submit written comments to these bodies, as well as attend in-person at the meetings.


In the absence of any action by the City Council, the City’s Boards and Commissions were advised that each respective meeting body could set its own policy regarding remote participation subject to the availability of staff and City resources. As the City’s ultimate decision-maker, the City Council has the discretion to set rules for all of its subsidiary bodies. Absent direction or action by the City Council, these bodies would be afforded the discretion to make their own polices subject to staffing and operational limitations.


At the November 14, 2023 City Council meeting, Councilmembers Jackson and Detoy and Mayor Massey expressed their support for an agenda item where public participation via remote platform could be discussed. Council further directed staff to include other possible changes to the format and timelines for certain items at City Council meetings for discussion. These additional discussion items include, but are not limited to, options to ensure that items on the agenda are heard in a timely manner and are not delayed into the late evening by lengthy periods of public comment. 


At its December 12, 2023 meeting, City Council discussed the details of this report in-depth and directed City staff to return with a resolution effectuating the changes to the format and operations of the City Council meetings and when feasible, make the format and operations of subsidiary bodies the same to ensure consistency citywide.




Remote Participation


With the City Council (and City Boards and Commissions) meeting in person in City Council chambers, the Brown Act does not legally mandate that the public be allowed to participate remotely. Only if a member of the City Council is attending the meeting under the remote participation rules under AB 2449 does the Brown Act require that the public also be allowed to attend and participate remotely. AB 2449, among other things, allows remote participation for “just cause” or “emergency circumstances” without identifying and making this remote location accessible to the public. The “old” Brown Act teleconferencing rules that require notice on the alternative location on the agenda and access to the public similarly does not require that the City allow remote participation by the public - unless they are physically present at the alternative location. However, nothing in the Brown Act would prevent the City Council from allowing remote public participation.


Remote participation  allows members of the public the opportunity to view or listen in to City meetings and participate when an item of interest is called. City staff expected increased public participation from members of the public that typically would not participate. Staff has not seen the expected increase in public participation.


The technical responsibilities of hosting and running the remote platform requires a dedicated staff member to monitor and run the remote platform meeting while ensuring that the bandwidth required for the remote platform does not contribute to other technical issues. Finally, when a meeting is noticed that guarantees a public comment option, members of the public shall be allowed to attend and participate remotely. Should the City’s ability to host and run the remote platform meeting be compromised, the meeting cannot continue.


Despite the technical challenges associated with managing remote participation, it continues to allow members of the public who cannot attend in person the ability to comment in real time when the item is heard. While written comments are available to members of the public, remote public participation  allows for a commenter to listen to the staff report and any questions the City Council may posit in real-time to better inform their comments . However, staff does not expect that public participation will generate a diverse group of the public to participate remotely with the continuation of a remote public participation.


City staff surveyed other jurisdictions and the City would not be alone in limiting public participation to in person only. The results of the survey are attached as Attachment 2. As noted above, the City Council should also consider remote participation rules/policies for its subsidiary Boards and Commissions.


Format and Structure of Meetings


The City Council has the discretion to set the structure and format of its meetings, provided they adhere to local and State law.  Currently, City Council meetings solicit general public comment which are within the Council’s jurisdiction, but not listed on the agenda as an action item. There is currently no time limit for general public comment which can result in numerous public commenters speaking on one or more items not listed on the agenda for an extended period of time. Lengthy general public comment periods in addition to Proclamations/Presentations, City Councilmember Comments, and/or Consent Calendar Items that get pulled for separate discussion can result in the Council’s legal Public Hearings heard late into the meeting, causing other items listed on the agenda to be heard later into the evening. Members of the public have  expressed their  frustration that the items listed on the agenda are not heard until  hours after the meeting start time.


Staff reviewed how other jurisdictions have  balanced the allowance of general public comment while still efficiently getting to the City’s business items on the agenda at a reasonable hour so that those who are in attendance are not forced to wait until unreasonably late hours to participate in an item.


Ultimately, City Council directed staff to bifurcate the general public comment opportunity by limiting the first general public comment opportunity to two minutes per speaker, not to exceed 30 minutes. A second public comment opportunity would open at the latter part of the meeting to give any an additional opportunity to members of the public wishing to address the Council on a matter not listed on the agenda, but within the Council’s jurisdiction. City Council directed staff to modify the agenda so that general public comment be provided in person only. However, action items would have a remote public participation option and both in person and remote public comments for items on the agenda are limited to three minutes per speaker instead of two minutes.


The modifications to the City Council agenda format are implemented for the January 23, 2024 meeting. Any subsequent Board and Commission agendas scheduled after the direction provided by City Council at their December 12, 2023 meeting have also been modified to implement the changes. City Council may wish to consider additional modifications to the format and structure of its meeting agendas or its Boards and Commissions.


City Council Direction and Resolution


At its December 12, 2023 meeting the City Council discussed the format and operations of City Council meeting and directed staff to bring back a resolution effectuating the following changes:

(i)                     remote participation (Zoom), unless otherwise required by law, will only be allowed for items on the agenda not during the general public comment period and only as a courtesy;

(ii)                     the first general public comment period will be limited to thirty (30) minutes and if necessary, a second general public comment period will appear at the end of the agenda for any remaining public comments;

(iii)                     general public comments will be limited to two (2) minutes per speaker;

(iv)                     general written comments will no longer be included as a separate item on the agenda (i.e., no more Written Comment Report);

(v)                     removal of the procedure involving the City Clerk distributing photos of video to the City Council at the request of members of the public (member of the public can still send those items directly to City officials if they desire);

(vi)                     subsidiary bodies, when feasible, will adhere to the same rules and procedures to maintain consistency throughout City bodies.


Other changes to the resolution include removing redundant language that repeats state law that the City Council (and other City Brown Act bodies) must already adhere to. This was done to ensure that a situation does not arise where State law is amended and conflicts with the City’s adopted resolution. A copy of the exiting City Council Resolution (Resolution No. 15-6988) is attached as Attachment 3 and a redline of this resolution is attached as Attachment 4


Finally, at the request of the City Attorney’s office, the City Council should consider the efficacy of Robert’s Rules of Order and if a switch to Rosenberg’s Rules of Order (Attachment 5) is appropriate. Currently, City meetings are governed by Robert’s Rules of Order. These rules are made up of hundreds of pages of technical and nuanced rules that are more geared toward large legislative bodies such as Congress. Rosenberg’s Rules of Order is a simplified set of parliamentary rules widely used by other jurisdictions in California in lieu of Robert’s Rules because other jurisdictions have found them practical, logical, simple, easy to learn and user friendly. While there are differences in that Robert’s Rules contemplates way more scenarios (many of which are inapplicable to a five-member body like the City Council), Rosenberg’s Rules are derived from Robert’s Rules in that the City’s meetings would more or less run the same under the chair (i.e., Mayor) with the typical procedure of a motion to take action as well as a super majority required for items like a motion to end debate.


General Plan Consistency:

This report and associated recommendation have been evaluated for their consistency with the City’s General Plan. Relevant Policies are listed below:


Governance Element


Goal 1. A high degree of transparency and integrity in the decision-making process.


                     1.1 Open Meetings. Maintain the community’s trust by holding meetings in which decisions are being made, that are open and available for all community members to attend, participate, or view remotely.

                     1.4 Consensus oriented. Strive to utilize a consensus-oriented decision-making process.


Goal 2 The community is active and engaged in decision-making processes.


                     2.3 Public participation guidelines. Establish parameters and guidelines to ensure public participation is promoted through diverse methods.


Fiscal Impact:

There is no fiscal impact associated with the recommended action.



1.                     Draft Resolution

2.                     Allowance of Remote Participation Survey

3.                     Resolution No. 15-6988

4.                     Redline of Resolution No. 15-6988

5.                     Rosenberg’s Rules of Order



Respectfully Submitted by: Patrick Donegan, City Attorney

Concur: Myra Maravilla, City Clerk

Noted for Fiscal Schedule: Viki Copeland, Finance Director

Legal Review: Patrick Donegan, City Attorney

Approved: Suja Lowenthal, City Manager