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Appointed Bodies Likely to Continue Remote Meetings

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By Jorge Casuso

June 9, 2022 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to make the findings needed to allow appointed boards and commissions to continue holding meetings remotely.

The Council -- which has been meeting in person since April -- is expected to leave the decision to the individual bodies by approving a resolution authorizing them to meet on-line though July 14.

"For Boards and Commissions, the default will be remote meetings unless and until any decision to meet in person," staff wrote in their report to the Council.

Staff cited the continued spread of the highly contagious, but far less dangerous Omicron BA.2 lineage and sub-lineages in recommending the Council approve the resolution.

"While not experiencing the high case levels and positivity rates as seen during the height of the winter surge," staff wrote, "Los Angeles County is currently experiencing increases in COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates."

In addition, "related hospitalizations are no longer in decline, which may be attributed to the more transmissible BA.2 subvariant spreading in LA County."

Staff noted that the County's Health Officer Order (HOO) "strongly recommends masks, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor public settings."

"Members of Boards and Commissions previously voiced concern about being required to return to in-person meetings," staff wrote.

That's because "many people, including those with identified underlying medical conditions, unvaccinated older adults, (and) people from ethnic and racial minority groups, remain at risk for severe illness from COVID-19," staff wrote.

The resolution also paves the way for the Council to resume remote meetings if they so choose, staff said.

Tuesday's vote is required under Assembly Bill 361, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last September.

The law extended the authority of public agencies to continue holding virtual meetings during the ongoing coronavirus emergency, which was declared 27 months ago.

Meetings held via teleconferencing, which includes video, require the City to identify ways the public can watch or participate. The City also must allow the public to submit comments during the meetings and address the legislative body in real time.

In the event of a technical disruption, "the legislative body shall take no further action on items appearing on the agenda until public access to the meeting" is restored.

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