Post-covid, might virtual public participation at Alameda County supervisors meetings be permanent?

The pandemic has sent all government meetings to the virtual realm, but once the pandemic is behind us public speakers may be allowed to continue participation in Alameda County Board of Supervisors meetings from home.

Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle made the query during a special meeting on Tuesday as the board was receiving public ethics training. He asked members of the law firm Meyers-Nave whether it is permissible under the Brown Act to allow the public to speak remotely during Board of Supervisors, post-covid.

The Board of Supervisors have conducted its meetings via the Zoom conference call platform since last March.

“I think it would probably be okay,” said Eric Casher, an attorney for Meyers-Nave. “It promotes access and allows the public not to be present.”

A future board policy allowing virtual participation would be akin to the current practice of allowing residents to send written comments for inclusion in the public record, said Kris Kokotaylo, also a Meyers-Nave attorney.

Such an allowance by the Board of Supervisors would be a boon for county residents. Since the board typically meets during late morning and early afternoon hours, public attendance at their meetings is typically sparse, absent controversial agenda items.

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