Monday, November 24, 2014

Commissioner's Corner: YouTube links in public comments

This post is part of a series based upon my experience as a planning commissioner.

Last month, I was reviewing staff reports in preparation for a planning commisson hearing and saw something I'd never seen before:  buried in a public comment was a YouTube link that promised a personal tour of the site in question.  I clicked on the link, but alas, the commenter apparently had decided to take down the video as it was no longer available.  I did not have a chance to view the link, as a result, but that experience got me thinking:

...why don't staff reports have YouTube videos?  One of the major issues with staff reports is the unreliability of photos.  What is on the other side of the street from the photo?  A video would tell a lot more.  Most staff reports these days are digital, anyway, and so embedding a YouTube video would not be onerous.

...why don't more public commenters use video to illustrate the site?  With the ready availability of iPhone videos and YouTube postings, why haven't videos become more common in public commenting?  Or have they?

...might the inclusion of videos in public commenting create interesting administrative record issues?  For instance, if there is a link to a video in a public comment, the planning commission relies on that video in its decisionmaking, and then the video disappears off of YouTube controlled by the private entity, who is responsible for making such videos part of the administrative record?

...what other issues might arise with the introduction of video into planning commission meetings?  

I'd love to hear experiences from others out there.  Is this something that is common at planning commissions now?  Have any cities written code or regs governing video evidence or testimony at planning commissions?

Stephen R. Miller

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