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Oakland Considering Limiting Access To City Council Meetings

OAKLAND (CBS 5) - Recent disruptions at Oakland City Council meetings have city officials considering limiting public access.

City council members have been routinely shouted down at some recent gatherings, and now Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana and other officials are calling for a new balance between an open government and an efficient one.

"The overriding goal here is to ensure that we have an effective public meeting process that people can participate in…and that the city can move ahead with its business in a safe and timely manner," said Assistant City Administrator Karen Boyd.

While the official city proposal has not yet been unveiled, some reports say it involves removing abut half of the public seats in council chambers and move more people to overflow viewing rooms.

"We are actually looking to facilitate peoples' right to speak. We really do want to hear from people, but we want to make sure that everybody gets their voice heard," said Boyd.

But Oakland resident Byron Titus said he thinks the possible changes are a terrible idea.

"I don't like that at all," said Titus. "Leave the seats…we need to speak to our city council members. We are the people and we live here."

Others agree that the public has a right to attend and voice concerns.

"People in this town like to speak their mind and sometimes certain folks don't want to hear it, I guess," said Craig Casey.

The issue is expected to go before the city council at a meeting next Tuesday, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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