San Leandro is the last city in Alameda County
not televising its council meetings.

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Council members in San Leandro may finally be ready for their close-ups.

San Leandro has long been the only city in Alameda County with meetings not televised over the airwaves or Internet. That may change Monday night with a proposal to upgrade its council chambers for installation of high-definition cameras and audio, at a cost of just under $400,000.

In fact, San Leandro only began streaming live audio of its meetings in early 2011. Although its current council set-up appears modern, its acoustics and sound system are 20 years old, according to a staff report, and difficult to hear, among a long list of negatives.

“The loudspeakers have lost their fidelity, the Council Chamber’s acoustics are poor and the audio signal that is broadcast over the web contains too much background noise that makes listening difficult,” says a staff report. “Visual presentations by staff or the public can only be seen on a projection screen that is positioned at an odd angle to the audience seats.

While the city tries to burnish an new image of San Leandro has a rising beacon of tech creativity, it lack of broadcast capabilities of council meetings has long been a subject of embarrassment. San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy has long lobbied for videotaping council meetings during his run for office in 2010. Shortly after taking office, however, budget circumstances only allowed the city to offer audio and not video, which entailed an overhaul of the council chambers to make room for equipment.

The service agreement with AVI-SPL for the $395,381 contract also includes audio upgrades to the adjoining Sisters Cities Gallery and installation of a video monitor for overflow crowds.

Residents in neighboring cities have long enjoyed the ease of watching council meeting’s live in their homes and the convenience of catching up with archived events online at their own convenience.

In nearby Oakland, there is growing evidence online broadcasts of council meetings can spark the interest of young voters and all residents, in general. Twitter followers of the hashtag #oakmtg routinely flock to the site to make poignant and often witty and sarcastic remarks while viewing the meetings online. During one meeting earlier this year, for instance, #oakmtg was briefly listed as a national trending topic.