Council reacts to increasing ‘hostility’

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City Clerk Robin Roberts stands at the podium, flanked by city employees, presents the Choose Civility Program report to the City Council. Photo courtesy of the city of Seal Beach

The Seal Beach City Council this week unanimously approved a “Choose Civility Program” and council rules of procedure to address what some see as a growing culture of hostility in the community.

(Editor’s note: The city government issued a press release on this same subject after the Sun’s print deadline.)

In other news, a consultant updated the council and public on Seal Beach’s parking program.

Choose civility

Many city staff members, some of them wearing “Choose Civility” T-shirts, stood behind City Clerk Robin Roberts as she presentated the proposal to the council Monday.

The idea apparently grew out of the Sept. 12 strategic planning meeting. At that meeting, Roberts stood before city officials and became emotional speaking about what she and other city staffers said was the increasing hostility they are experiencing from residents. This week, Roberts described an incident in which it took her and other staffers 20 minutes to calm a man down enough to understand his concern.

Roberts said the US Conference of Mayors has approved a civility accord.

The approved Seal Beach Civility Policy, in part directs the city officer or employee on the receiving end of demanding, loud, or insulting comments to try to de-escalate the situation. If that doesn’t work, the person may be asked to leave city property.

The police document specifically says it is not intended to deprive anyone of their freedom of expression. Roberts said much the same thing during her presentation.

Resident Seth Eaker, raised concern that the lanaguage of the policy seemed one-sided. He brought up an incident in which a city staff member insulted him.

District One Councilwoman Ellery Deaton told Eaker that if he read the council policy as a whole he would see it holds council members to the same standard.

 

Parking

Earlier in the evening, parking consultant Julie Dixon, of Dixon Resources unlimited, told the council and the public that the implimentation of virutal parking permits based on license plate reading technology and changes to the Seal Beach Municipal Code would be among the next steps in the city’s parking program. Dixon did not mention a date for the implementation of virtual parking permits. However, Police Commander Steve Bowles said license plate readers had been installed on city vehicles.

According to Dixon, proposed changes to the city code would include requiring drivers to move their cars at least 150 feet from the previous parking space to avoid a citation for parking beyond the allotted time. Dixon also said that parking fee increases would be tied to the city’s annual fee approvals. Finance Director Victoria Beatley said that if the city had raised beach parking fees incrementally, the city would not have needed to go to the California Coastal Commission for approval. The next parking meeting is scheduled for Nov. 29.

Jeannette Andruss contributed to this story.

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