You may not have to stay up past your bedtime to watch, attend, or participate in Manteca’s City Council meetings by the time spring arrives.
The City Council is considering changing meeting start time to an hour earlier — at 6 p.m. — when they meet Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center council chambers, 1001 W. Center St.
The meeting start time of 7 p.m. has been in place since at least the 1980s.
Regular scheduled meetings 25 years ago were moved from Monday to Tuesday.
At that time, a 6 p.m. start time was considered but rejected. There was a concern that an earlier time would make it difficult for many that are part of Manteca’s large commuter base that wanted to attend a meeting but couldn’t do so with a 6 p.m. start.
The widespread use of Zoom hastened by the pandemic has created a large pool of residents that are able to interact with the council during meetings through citizens comments as well as to participate in public hearings.
In addition, the city’s ability to livestream meetings on its website to various devices from smartphones and tablets to desktop computers has made access for viewing more universally available than simply being accessed via Comcast Channel 97 that requires one to subscribe to the cable service.
In a staff report prepared by City Attorney Dave Nefouse, it was noted, “with the ability of members of the public to participate in City Council meetings and because several city council meetings go late into the evening (when less residents are awake), starting meetings at 6 p. pm will not only allow the City conduct its business at a more convenient time for its residents, but also assist City staff who attend and/or participate at the meetings.”
Often times when regularly scheduled council meeting are combined with a special meeting beforehand for discussion of items such as personnel, litigation and negotiations as allowed under state law behind closed doors, council members can spend up 6 hours or more meeting..
That ends up pushing midnight between the regularly scheduled meeting and special meetings beforehand that will start anywhere form 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. depending upon the agenda.
Currently, if a meeting looks as if it will go past 10 p.m. a vote is taken to see if the council should continue to consider new items that are still left to cover on the agenda.
There has been no indication yet if that policy will stay in effect or if a vote to continue will be asked as 9 p.m. approaches with the new start time.
If the council concurs with proposed changes in the ordinance governing meetings and times, then regularly scheduled meetings on the first and third Tuesdays will start at 6 p.m. beginning on March 21.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org