Record editorial: Curfew for meetings is in the public’s interest
Governmental bodies in Summit County should take a page out of the Park City Planning Commission’s playbook.
Planning commissioners on Wednesday endorsed a curfew that will require the panel’s meetings to end no later than 9:30 p.m. unless they vote to continue a discussion beyond that time.
The move likely comes as welcome news to Parkites who have sat in the Marsac Building — or propped themselves in front of their computer screen — deep into the night as the panel deliberates regarding riveting topics such as setback requirements, conditional-use permits and Park City’s Land Management Code.
But the Park City Planning Commission isn’t the only local governmental body whose meetings can sometimes extend well past the time that reasonable people are in bed, or at least on the couch catching up on the latest episode of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” Other entities — such as the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission, which also often has meetings that run late — should consider implementing their own curfews.
Put simply, the people’s business should be done in public view. And while meetings that continue past a reasonable hour may meet the letter of Utah’s open meetings laws, they violate their spirit. There may be times when lengthy meetings are necessary, but by and large, residents should be able to participate in the process — and keep an eye on what the officials who represent them are doing — without having to sit in meetings stretching into the night.
As an added benefit, the prospect of a looming deadline may also provide a sense of urgency to the discussions, keeping the officials, residents offering testimony and other parties focused on the key topics at hand. Anyone who frequents public meetings knows that it doesn’t take much for a discussion to go off track. The detours and digressions add up, and before long a meeting that ought to end at 9 p.m. ends up lasting another hour and a half.
That’s to the detriment of the public, as well as the officials themselves, who give up a significant amount of their personal time to serve the community.
So good on you, Park City planning commissioners. We trust that you can still tackle the crucial work you’ve been tasked with — and now the discussions will be over in time for folks to catch “The Tonight Show” or grab dinner at a somewhat reasonable hour on Wednesday evenings once again.
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As Park City plans for Pride Month, it needs to proceed with caution while considering the celebration. Park City would like to believe bathing the barn at the McPolin Farm in rainbow colors would win universal support, but we expect that would not be the case in a community of people with various political stripes, religions and personal beliefs.