Several weeks ago I had the pleasure as chairperson of the Laguna Beach TechComm Committee to present our annual report to the City Council. Not many people even know that this committee exists, so a bit of background was in order.
The committee, five members strong, was formed to advise the City Council on issues related to the incumbent cable television provider. Indeed one of the first projects I participated in was analyzing the cable franchise agreement between Cox Communications and Laguna Beach, which provided among other things revenue for the city for each subscriber Cox served, and free broadband services for the city government’s use.
The committee has since expanded its scope and now acts as an advisory board on telecommunications issues affecting residents. The variety of topics that have come up during meetings include canyon safety through fire watch cameras, cell tower coverage, disaster preparedness, public access arts programming, alternative television programming options via the Internet, and public safety through law enforcement use of surveillance video.
My presentation focused on four areas: efforts to expand the visibility of the committee on the city web site, including the addition of a telecommunications directory of cable, satellite and telephone providers to the current list of utilities; ongoing initiatives with the Disaster Preparedness Committee to ensure the city has backup communications in the event of disasters or other public safety emergencies; the committee’s support for limited deployment on a trial basis of public surveillance video to assist public safety officials; (This was particularly timely due to the recent costly vandalism of the City’s parking meters at the Glenneyre parking structure.) efforts to educate residents about alternative (i.e. non cable or satellite) options for viewing television programming.
Public comment at our meetings are primarily filled by residents with concerns about the increase in their programming costs, with the reduction in their options.
The committee meets next on Monday, Oct. 10, 4:30 p.m. in the Susi Q Center. The public is welcome to attend. I’d love to hear from residents about their experiences with Laguna Beach’s telecommunications services. New topics for discussion are also always welcome.
Tim Templeton, Laguna Beach