Inside City Hall

Dear Laguna Beach Neighbors,

We’ve gotten some good comments recently about adding back in an online platform (like Zoom) that would allow more people to offer their thoughts about City issues and items before the City Council.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach City Manager Dave Kiff

With the important caveat that I wasn’t here to experience the earlier Zoom-bombing events in Laguna (such as the Council meeting of February 13, 2024), my previous employer had seen these too. As I know you’ll agree, those interactions are traumatic for all, but especially for persons who may already feel marginalized or “othered” in society.

On the other hand, Zoom allows greater participation from many, including busy parents, seniors, mobility-impaired individuals and others who may not find it easy to attend in person.

Balancing the goals of increased access and ensuring that in-person attendees, councilmembers and city staff are somewhat protected from traumatizing speech isn’t easy. Because City Hall (and council meetings) is a workplace, we are especially aware of how we must avoid speech that can cause race-based, religion-based, or gender- or orientation-based trauma.

We did ask our City Attorney to take a look at this, and to specifically see if we could interrupt a person using hateful speech during a Zoom-bombing. Here’s what she thought (and I’m paraphrasing):

The effective way to cut off or end hateful speech is to determine that the comments are out of line because the comments are unrelated to City business. But, if the City and community want to continue to have the City celebrate things like LGBTQ+ Pride month, or Juneteenth, then someone making hateful speech might have a case that their hateful speech IS related to City business. In that instance, we’d likely have to endure the hateful speech.

I worry too that as November nears, the national discourse will get rougher. If (or when) that translates into local discourse – or non-local folks joining in on our discourse in a toxic way – then that’s going to be both hard to stop and really disruptive to community decorum and city business. And hurtful to those who can’t get away from it (such as in-person audience members and our city workforce).

This is just my opinion (and I am not a councilmember of course), but it may make the most sense to keep watching the law and the technology to see if protections can be improved, and to revisit our online platforms after November.

In the meantime, I know that all of us want to hear your voices – whether that be in person or via email or letter – and we warmly invite you to participate in the City Council meetings. Find out more about how you can participate by clicking here.

Thanks for your patience and understanding as we navigate this. Your involvement is essential as we work to ensure safe and inclusive participation for all. As always, I enjoy hearing from you on this and any other city issue – you can always email me directly at dkiff@lagunabeachcity.net.

Kind Regards,

Dave Kiff, City Manager


Slide
Slide
Slide 3
Slide 4


Slide

Slide

Slide

Send this to a friend