Encinitas lifts no-clapping ban. ‘Applause does not equate to disruptive behavior’

Encinitas City Council
(Karen Billing)

Policy changes also will bring back the speaker time-donation system that would allow someone to talk up to 9 minutes


New mayor, new rules.

People will once again be allowed to clap at Encinitas City Council meetings to express support with a public speaker at the podium.

And, a ban on speaker time donations, enacted during COVID-19, also was lifted late Wednesday, Feb. 8, so people can once again talk for up to 9 minutes about an item on the agenda.

Mayor Tony Kranz, who was elected in November, said he had the ability in his new role to change the meeting policies without putting them up for a council vote, but thought it was better to give them a public airing. However, he said, he hadn’t intended for the debate to start so late in the night.

Listed last on an agenda where many items received public comment, the meeting policy changes didn’t come up until well after 10 p.m. — the time that’s the standard goal for ending council meetings.

Kranz had the council’s full support when it came to allowing one speaker time donation of three minutes, which would make it possible for a person to talk for a total of six minutes if someone else donated three minutes. He didn’t get full support for returning to the old policy of two, three-minute time donations, or a total speaking time of nine minutes. The vote was 4-1, with Councilwoman Kellie Hinze opposed.

“I think that it is important that we run efficient meetings to the extent possible,” Hinze said.

Hinze, who recently gave birth to a daughter, noted that it was after 11 p.m., her daughter was likely to wake in an hour for her first nighttime feeding, and said six minutes seemed sufficient.

The prohibition on clapping at meetings was started by former Mayor Catherine Blakespear after she saw it in use at regional government meetings. Instead of clapping, Blakespear advocated silent hand waiving, saying clapping was disruptive and slowed the meetings down.

“I’m not a jazz hands guy,” Kranz said Wednesday night, Feb. 8, as he explained why he wanted to allow clapping again.

He had enthusiastic support from Councilman Bruce Ehlers, who said clapping ought to be considered a freedom of expression issue. Several people in audience also strongly supported the change.

“Applause does not equate to disruptive behavior,” Encinitas resident CJ Minster said during her time at the podium.

Clapping tells everyone how important an issue is, praises the bravery of the public speaker and creates a sound that’s audible to people watching council meetings online, she said.

Minster and others also supported the return to the old time-donation policy. Planning Commission Chairman Kevin Doyle said the Planning Commission didn’t eliminate time donations during COVID-19 and it wasn’t a problem. He said the two-person time-donation policy dates from the city’s incorporation decades ago by some “cantankerous people” who wanted to have their say in city issues.

“Bring it back,” he said.