Maximum capacity in council chambers at the new Hesperia City Hall is 179, but more than 200 people have attended each meeting this year -- virtually, at least.


 


The new council chambers feature a $68,655 computerized voting support system built by San Francisco-based Granicus. The system includes a system to digitally record meetings, aid in voting and the presentation of reports.


 


And it also allows residents to watch council meetings transmitted over the Internet, something they've been doing in droves: Between January 1 and December 18, there have been 5,289 viewings of council meetings, or almost 230 additional spectators at each of the 23 meetings held during that period.


 


"That's very impressive," Councilwoman Rita Vogler said. "That's good, good, good, good. They must enjoy it, then."


 


"We feel that Granicus has been very effective in allowing residents to viewing council meetings from home," said city spokeswoman Kelly Malloy. It's her hand on the joystick controlling the system's multiple cameras, zooming in on speakers' faces or panning across the faces of groups of honorees.


 


"It's amazing how much positive feedback we get," she said, "Especially for specific items."


 


Vogler has even gone so far as to directly address residents watching meetings over the Internet.


 


"Some [residents] will tease me," Vogler said. "'I've been watching you.'"


 


Unlike the Webcast systems used by some other cities in the county, Hesperia's system allows residents to jump directly to the item they're interested in, once the video has had a chance to fully load into a computer's memory.


 


"We've all been to council meetings that ran long, and if all you care about is one specific item ... all you have to do is click and get to the right item you want," Malloy said.


 


"It will help more and more people get involved," Vogler said. "It's their community."


 


The next meeting of the Hesperia City Council will be held January 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Hesperia City Hall, 9700 Seventh Avenue.


 


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.