For residents who can't make it to City Hall on Tuesday nights, the council will broadcast its meetings online. The cost: $18,246 upfront plus $13,000 annually.
San Juan Capistrano, California - Coming soon to a laptop, iPad or desktop computer near you: live and recorded City Council meetings.
The City Council decided Tuesday to spend $18,246 to install a camera and software to broadcast and record various city meetings, enabling Internet surfers to watch sessions live or catch up later with archived recordings.
In addition, the software package by Granicus Inc. of San Francisco will cost nearly $13,000 annually.
"Having [access to a meeting] at your home, I think it's a need, not a want," said Councilman Sam Allevato.
Granicus has about 940 public agencies using its webstreaming software, including Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Dana Point and Laguna Hills, said Ed Burrell, software sales executive for the company.
Resident EJ Constantine complained about the price tag.
"Do we have citizens complaining they don't have access? We don't need to to spend money when the information is out there," he said. "Not everybody is computer literate. Not everybody has iPads."
Councilman Derek Reeve said greater accessibility and transparency were among the issues on which he campaigned last year.
"I wanted it to be on TV, but we had to be frugal," he said.
Mayor Larry Kramer said the city looked into broadcasting on Cox, but the venture was expensive and had limited reach.
With Granicus's software, "if you have any sort of computer, you can get it," Kramer said.
One of the handiest features, Burrell said, is the ability to jump to any agenda topic while watching archived meetings without having to sit through other parts of the meeting.
The package approved by the council includes one camera and the ability to audio-record other city commission meetings and events. Videotaping those other commission meetings will cost $129 each time, said City Clerk Maria Morris.
With the new software, the public will have an easier time learning about city government and ongoing projects, Allevato said.
"We are probably at the lower end of providing these types of reports to the public," he said. "I would like to have a whole new City Hall some day. This is a small step toward that."
Initially, Councilwoman Laura Freese was "dead against" webstreaming. "I thought it was just for the five or six who were screaming out for transparency," she said.
But when she realized it would save staff time and help dispel rumors about what was said and done at council meetings, she changed her mind.
Penny Arévalo, firstname.lastname@example.org
San Juan Capistrano Patch