City council amends decorum code

CARLSBAD — At the July 26 Carlsbad City Council meeting, a unanimous vote was made in amending the Carlsbad Municipal Code related to decorum. According to the city, it was time for them to update it.
In this adoption, the type of decorum being revised had to do with defining and dealing with disruptive behavior if it occurs during a City Council meeting.
The operative words in defining disruptive behavior include if someone was loud with their voice or conducted themselves in an unruly or boisterous way which was intended to disrupt a meeting.
Carlsbad City Attorney Ronald Ball said this new adoption arose from a couple of things.
In one example, an organization ran through the council chambers with a banner and disrupted the meeting. It forced the mayor to call a “time out” and he left his seat until things returned back to normal. More recently, Ball said a speaker during the public comment section of the meeting exhibited disruptive behavior.
“Those kinds of behavior do not facilitate the council conducting the peoples’ business,” Ball said. “That’s why we passed this ordinance on decorum.”
In the 25 years Ball has held the position of city attorney, he said disruptive behavior really hasn’t occurred very much.
“Let me say that 99 percent of the people are wonderfully well-behaved and we only ask that they address the council in a respectful way, a respectful tone and don’t engage in conduct that would disrupt the meeting,” he said.
Depending on the disorderly situation or behavior, the mayor generally asks the individual to stop what they’re doing, let them know that their time speaking has come to an end, or ask them to return at another time after they’ve calmed down. If a person refuses to leave the council chambers after the warning or request, there may be ramifications.
The police chief or their designee may be asked by the mayor to escort the individual out, Ball said. At that point, they could be issued a citation, which could include a fine.
“If that person comes back after they have been warned on that very same night, then they can be asked to leave again, and if they don’t, they can be given a misdemeanor ticket which is a more serious charge,” Ball said.
Additionally, if an individual has exhibited “disruptive behavior” three times in one year, a misdemeanor ticket can be enforced, as well.
Ball said the intention of this decorum adoption is for the benefit of the city council, staff members, speakers and the audience. It’s for all the individuals inside the chambers.
Ball pointed out that nearly everyone is respectful towards the city council. And the feedback that they get, both in person and in letters, has been extremely positive over the years.
“It’s that less-than-one-percent where you have behavior that needs to be subject to rules that are normally not enforced,” he said.
For more information regarding upcoming city council meetings and public participation, visit carlsbadca.gov or call (760) 434-2820.

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