After working virtually for over two years, the Pasadena City Council and its subordinate bodies will hold weekly meetings in-person starting January.
This change comes after the City Council during its Monday meeting voted unanimously in favor of an ad hoc committee’s proposal to return to in-person meetings. It has been conducting virtual meetings since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020.
The Councilmembers will return for their first in-person session on Jan. 9, according to City Clerk Mark Jomsky.
For the remainder of the year, the meetings will be held remotely — the City Council during the meeting also approved a resolution that will allow them to continue meeting remotely from Nov. 21 until Dec. 21. The extension will give the City Council and its subordinate bodies time to prepare for the shift, according to the ad hoc committee’s proposal.
When the in-person meeting returns, members of the City Council have to present at the Council chamber.
They may still participate remotely using Zoom or with similar virtual meeting technologies but they have to follow Brown Act provisions for the remote meeting. Under the Brown Act, the physical location of a remote member must be noted on the meeting agenda.
Members of the public who want to participate should also be present in-person and cannot continue to participate virtually. However, they can still send their comments through written correspondence.
The City Council meetings will be broadcast live through KPAS and online streaming only.
As per city staff report, holding in-person meetings would cost $200,000 annually. In comparison, the city staff noted a funding of $700,000 annually is needed if remote public comment for all bodies will be allowed.
At the same meeting, the City Council has tasked the Economic Development and Technology Committee to revisit expanding public comment options in the future after some Councilmembers expressed support for a hybrid set up, which would allow members of the public to continue participating remotely.
“I did speak to my Commissioners on this topic — both the chair of the [Accessibility and Disability Commission] and the Senior Commissioner, District 7 representatives, and they did ask that we be mindful that for certain segments of our community, getting to meetings in-person is difficult,” Vice Mayor Andy Wilson said.
“[I personally] would like to see for all of our meetings [to be in hybrid format] at least for all Council related meetings,” said Councilmember Tyron Hampton. “I do think Commission meetings should also have the ability for someone to be able to watch those meetings live or be able to make public comment virtually or in-person.”
“We should allow this hybrid method of people going in-person or digitally instead of looking at a number saying ‘oh, it’s too expensive.’ This is our work. Our work is to listen to people and hear what they have to say and make it accessible for them to do that,” Hampton added.
According to city staff, as of Sept. 20, 27 cities in Los Angeles County are conducting in-person meetings, 24 cities are conducting meetings through a hybrid format or a mix of in-person and remote options and six cities are still fully remote.
The City Council meetings of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Monica were reported as in-person only.