La Palma will continue to audio broadcast City Council meetings live and look into improving the audio quality despite some council members wanting the city to turn to video broadcasting instead.
La Palma is one of two remaining Orange County cities that still only use audio broadcasting for council meetings. The City Council in February voted 3-2 in favor of researching costs and methods for cleaning up the quality of council meeting audio recordings. Some residents interviewed recently said that video broadcasts would be helpful in more clearly depicting council discussion.
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Bonnie Knartzer, 75, of La Palma, said she does not understand why the city would opt out of televising council meetings.
“I do have a hearing problem of sorts, so I understand [the need for video], especially when a lot of people are talking at once,” said Knartzer. “Why not just add one extra step?”
Councilmembers Janet Keo Conklin and Marshall Goodman voted against the motion after voting in favor of a substitute motion requesting that city staff research the costs of improving audio and implementing video livestreams.
A council majority rejected the substitute motion due to the financial concerns of implementing video infrastructure. Councilmember Nitesh Patel questioned the necessity of video broadcasting council meetings when the money could instead go toward improving audio quality of the broadcasts.
“I get it, other cities do it,” said Patel. “Other cities are a lot larger than us.”
He added: “I also understand we have elderly residents but I think there is enough information out there that gets out to them.”
La Palma and Rancho Santa Margarita are now the only two Orange County cities that do not televise their meetings, as Stanton has implemented video livestreams through a 12-month pilot program. Currently, La Palma City Council meetings can be accessed in person, via audio livestream, or audio recording.
Councilwoman Conklin argued that researching video live streaming would cost next to nothing.
“We’re not in the stone age,” she said during the meeting, requesting to at least look into the methods and costs of video broadcasting.
Conklin contended that video would allow for more transparency while providing visual accessibility to elderly residents who have difficulty listening to or attending council meetings in person.
Councilman Mark Waldman said he understands audio improvements must be made due to issues with microphone feedback and white noise – which occurred several times during the council meeting in which the topic was discussed.
“As far as video, we looked at this once before and you end up with a few problems,” he said. “The first is some grandstanding — some people come in to hear themselves speak. And so they speak for a long period of time; they don’t really add to the discussion. They just want to come and perform.”
Stanton’s video broadcasting pilot program was estimated to cost around $28,000 to $120,000, according to Stanton city staff research. La Palma does not have research regarding the fiscal impact of televised council meetings.
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