October 13, 2015 was an important day in Santa Clara history. That’s the first time the City Council, Stadium Authority, Sports and Open Space Authority, and Housing Authority met concurrently under one consolidated agenda – now considered a ‘best practice’ for cities, according to the Santa Clara City’s Clerk’s office.
The City Council’s governance committee – Mayor Jamie Matthews, and Council Members Patrick Kolstad and Teresa O’Neill – proposed the change.
“Simply put, this new, streamlined agenda is less cumbersome and makes it easier for Santa Clarans to participate with their City Council,” said Mayor Jamie Matthews in a news release.
Approved at the Sept. 29 Council meeting, concurrent meetings replace of Santa Clara’s former practice – dating back to the 1950s – of posting four separate agendas, many with no action scheduled except approving the previous meeting’s agenda. The new format also eliminates redundant items on multiple agendas.
It’s a change that makes public meetings more transparent. All business scheduled for discussion appears on a single agenda so people can see everything that’s scheduled instead of having to look up four separate agendas – something that’s led to past accusations from members of the public that City officials are trying to “bury” information.
It’s also easier to follow meetings. In the past, if the Council considered a Levi’s Stadium-related item during the regular Council meeting, the chair had to open the Stadium Authority meeting and reference multiple agenda items– something that made following discussions and votes confusing.
Every item on all agendas is now linked to that discussion in the meeting video. Previously, the Authorities’ agendas had no video links. Video recordings were only accessible from the regular meeting agenda, often making it difficult to find the relevant discussion.
“It’s a simple but effective way to empower folks,” said City Clerk and Auditor Rod Diridon, Jr. “Not everybody is an expert regarding City government. This helps the average resident find what’s being considered and participate if they’re so inclined.”
The new agenda is also a cost-effective move, say City officials, that reduces the amount of paper used at Council meetings and helps meetings proceed more smoothly.
“This is just the type of process improvement and openness we hoped to create through the Governance Committee,” said Councilmember Teresa O’Neill, Committee Chair. “This highly visible change lays the groundwork and expectations for more process improvements as we move forward.”
There are many ways to follow and participate in City Council and Authorities meetings. You can watch meetings on Comcast cable channel 26, broadcast at scheduled meeting times and repeated during the week.
You can also download a PDF of the entire meeting packet and watch meetings on-demand at the City’s website (santaclaraca.gov/government/council-meetings/view-online-meetings). The online archive goes back to January 2003.
There’s also a quick link to email the Council with comments and questions. Regular meeting agendas are published Friday evening for the following Tuesday. You can sign up to get advance notification about Council meetings and agendas at santaclaraca.gov/government/council-meetings/city-council-agenda-notification.
For more information, including a schedule of upcoming meetings, visit santaclaraca.gov/government/departments/city-clerk-city-auditor or contact the City Clerk at 408-615-2220, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
City website visitors will also notice another improvement that makes navigating the site much simpler: Page addresses (URLs) that describe the content. This was part of Santa Clara’s recent overhaul of the its website, led by IT manager Gaurav Garg.