Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater tabled a proposal to shorten the public comment period to three minutes after residents voiced opposition Tuesday night—some for more than five minutes, the current limit.
A few said three minutes isn’t enough time to express their opinions on more than one issue. Another cited the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, and the First Amendment.
Tony Flores, a West Garden Grove resident, directed his comments at the mayor.
“Like you said so many times Mr. Mayor, Garden Grove sets the standard,” Flores said. “Garden Grove should be smart enough that we keep our freedom of speech intact.”
Before tabling the proposal, Broadwater cited his years of council meetings, in which some residents spoke for well over the time limit, and meetings ran for five or six hours. He now sees residents use the open-comment period as a platform for their political campaigns, he said.
“They sometimes turn around and address the audience,” Broadwater added. “The Brown Act is there to give the opportunity to discuss an issue for a certain amount of time prior to voting on it.”
Also Tuesday, the council gave developer Brandywine Homes the go-ahead to build an apartment project at 14051 and 14061 Hope Street. With the project, Brandywine agreed to pay a $65,144 fee, although the sole resident who spoke about the project asked for something else as a “small token of appreciation.”
“I ask Brandywine to give back to Garden Grove and supply brand new American flags for Main Street,” said longtime resident John McIntosh.
Afterwards, City Manager Matt Fertal noted that the developer also paid $5,500 per unit toward the parking fund and must contribute toward parks and public areas.
In other business, the council approved new median landscaping, decorative walkways and updated business signs along the stretch of Harbor Boulevard from the Hampton Inn north of Chapman Avenue to just south of Lampson Avenue.
Council members and residents also took a quick break for birthday cake in honor of new council member Chris Phan. He turns 39 on Jan. 14.