Councilmembers Price + Zendejas, Supernaw and Uranga Move To Restore Public's Ability To Speak Remotely By Phone At Council Meetings
|(July 7, 2021, 7:10 a.m.) -- Councilwoman Suzie Price, joined by Councilmembers Mary Zendejas, Daryl Supernaw and Roberto Uranga, have moved to restore the public's ability (ended by the City Clerk without Council discussion effective July 6) to speak remotely by phone at Council meetings. The four Councilmembers have agendized a July 13 Council item asking city management to work with the City Clerk and report back on the feasibility of restoring telephone public testimony at City Council meetings.
In their agendizing memo, the four Councilmemebers write:
Throughout the COVD-19 emergency there have been creative solutions to follow state restrictions around public gatherings and social distancing. We have seen the availability of remote public comment provided by telephone become an incredibly useful way of offering greater access and accommodations for everyone to have a voice and participate in the important discussions facing our City. As we move back to holding in-person City Council meetings it is important that we ensure our public comment process is available to everyone. This should include individuals with disabilities for whom attending Council meetings and providing public comment in person can be difficult, as well as Long Beach residents who are simply unable to attend the meetings in person due to .work or school schedules, transportation needs, child care, the time needed waiting for their item to be called, or any other reason that may constrain someone from attending a meeting in person or presents a substantial hardship.
It's not a technical issue; during the pandemic, Long Beach implemented remote speaking as did other government bodies (including the LA County Board of Supervisors and CA Coastal Commission.) But would continuing it have significant costs (for the City Clerk to handle Council chamber public testimony plus remote testimony and if so what City Hall current spending or other resources could cover it?
Meanwhile, a Sacramento bill, AB 339, is progressing that would require cities/counties over 250,000 population to continue to allow remote public testimony. On June 2, the bill passed the Assembly on a 54-9-16 vote, with Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, LB-San Pedro) voting "no."
On July 1, AB 339 passed the state Senate Governance and Finance Committee on a 5-0 vote...with Councilwoman Price listed in the Committee's legislative analysis as supporting AB 339.
The bill will now be heard July 13 by the state Senate Judiciary Committee...which includes both of LB's state Senators: Committee chair Tom Umberg (D, SE LB-west OC) and state Senator Lena Gonzalez (D, LB-SE LA County.) It also includes state Senators Senator Andreas Borgeas (Vice Chair), Anna Caballero, Marķa Elena Durazo, Robert Hertzberg, Brian Jones, John Laird, Henry Stern, Bob Wieckowski and Scott Wiener.
Long Beach City Hall has taken no position on the bill (introduced in January.)
In July 1 Governance and Finance Committee hearing, supporters/opponents (as of June 28) listed in the Committee's legislative analysis were:
Jovanka Beckles - AC Transit Board Member; Janice Li - BART Board of Directors Member; Alan Lee - Big Bear Lake City Councilmember; Katie Valenzuela - Sacramento City Councilmember; Megan Beaman-Jacinto - Coachella City Councilmember; Miguel Arias - Fresno City Councilmember; Suzie Price - Long Beach City Councilmember; Bryan Osorio - Mayor of Delano; Rich Tran - Mayor of Milpitas; Karina Dominguez - Milpitas City Councilmember; Nithya Raman - LA City Councilmember 4th District; Christy Holstege - Palm Springs Mayor; Gayle Mclaughlin - Richmond City Councilmember; Rita Loof - San Bernardino County Board of Education, Area B; Monica Montgomery Steppe - San Diego City Councilmember; Jessie Lopez - Santa Ana City Councilmember; Cindy Chavez - Santa Clara Board of Supervisors; Bonnie Lieberman - Santa Clara Unified School District Governing Board Member; Vickie Fairchild - Santa Clara Unified School District Governing Board Member; Justin Cummings - Santa Cruz City Councilmember; Jon Wizard - Seaside City Council Member; James Coleman - South San Francisco Councilmember; Terry Taplin - City of Berkeley Councilmember; Zach Hilton, City of Gilroy Councilmember; Abundant Housing LA; California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) Action; California Faculty Association; California Teachers Association; Dolores Huerta Foundation; East Bay Yimby; East Valley Indivisibles; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Indivisible San Jose; League of Women Voters of California; National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter; Oceana; Operations Checks and Balances (An Indivisible group); Pacific Media Workers Guild (the Newsguild-communications Workers of America Local 39521); Peninsula for Everyone; People for Housing - Orange County; San Francisco Yimby; Santa Cruz Yimby; Sierra Club California; South Bay Yimby; Streets for People Bay Area; Time for Change Foundation; Urban Environmentalists; Yimby Action; 25 Individuals
California Association of Clerks & Election Officials; County of Kern; Solano County Board of Supervisors; South Bay Cities Council of Governments; City of Torrance
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