The Carpinteria City Council will hold a special meeting today to authorize continued remote teleconference meetings of the council and other city boards, committees and commissions for the next 30 days.
The special council meeting is necessary because the council has canceled its regular Aug. 22 meeting. As befitting the only item on its agenda, today’s meeting will be held virtually. It starts at 5:30 p.m.
From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 through June 2021, the council and other city boards, committees and commissions held their respective meetings solely by remote teleconference (i.e. Zoom webinar/meeting) under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive orders, staff noted. Since June 2021, hybrid meetings have been held, where the public may participate in person or virtually.
The governor later signed into law an Assembly bill that allows public agencies to continue using teleconferencing without complying with certain Brown Act provisions, staff said. (The Brown Act is California’s open meetings law.)
“The purpose of this agenda matter is for the council to consider making certain findings necessary in order to authorize continued teleconferencing meetings …,” staff said.
Under the Assembly bill, the city may use teleconferencing as long as there is a gubernatorial proclaimed state of emergency, and either state or local officials impose or recommend measures that promote social distancing or the legislative body finds that meeting in person would present an imminent safety risk to attendees.
In addition, every 30 days, the council must make the following findings in order to continue the teleconferencing option: The agency has reconsidered the circumstances of the state of emergency, and that it either continues to directly impact the ability of members to meet safely in person, or state or local officials continue to impose or recommend measures to promote social distancing.
“With the case positivity rate rising during the past month, staff recommends the council reconsider the safety and procedural issues involved in holding teleconference meetings pursuant to the bill, and adopt the resolution authorizing virtual or hybrid attendance of meetings through Sept. 14, 2022,” staff said.
Staff noted that through Aug. 4, the community risk level was ranked as “medium” as defined by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. On Friday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported the level of virus transmission had increased to high in the community.
The total number of weekly reported cases per 100,000 people through Aug. 4 was 251 vs. 316 on July 7.
“The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department recommends utilizing teleconferencing options for public meetings as an effective social distancing measure to facilitate participation in public affairs and encourages participants to protect themselves and others from the Covid 19 disease,” staff said.
The council has already approved two resolutions finding the requisite conditions exist for conducting teleconferencing meetings.
To watch today’s meeting virtually, go to carpinteriaca.gov/city-hall/agendas-meetings, where there’s a link to the Zoom session.