WEST COVINA — Residents may soon be able to stay home and watch city meetings live — something they haven’t been able to do since the televised programming was axed in 2008.
After going three years without broadcasting its meetings to West Covina households, the City Council this week instructed staff to research the cost of potentially implementing video webcasts or live television broadcasts of City Council and Planning Commission meetings.
“We want that transparency and we want to open that window and I’m happy,” said Councilman Fredrick Sykes, a long-time proponent of live broadcasts. “It’s going to be great for the seniors who do not like to drive at night and those who are disabled. There’s thousands of people we represent and it’s for the benefit of the people.”
The program began more than 20 years ago. It cost the city about $180,000 annually when it was broadcast through Charter Communications cable television, officials said.
West Covina began providing audio of City Council meetings in October 2010. And while those meetings are streamed lived, it takes a few days for them to be archived and available on the city website through the Sire Agenda system, which also provides city documents.
Still, West Covina is one of the few cities of its size that does not provide any type of broadcast of meetings to residents, Sykes said.
“It’s like the radio the way they have it right now, and it’s behind the times,” he said. “We represent over 150,000 people and not everyone has Internet due to poverty or what have you. But if we do both the Internet and the cable, now we cover a wider (spectrum) and can cover almost everybody in the city.”