Interested in what your government is doing? You don’t need to be an official League ‘Observer’ to keep an eye on it. If you have already been following a governmental agency, know that meetings are likely to be on-line in real time. (For some examples of how that is working, you can read our Observer Reports for April.)
With the ‘shelter in place’ order, your meeting has likely gone virtual but is still accessible to you – you may even be able to comment, just as you would if you were in the same room (something official observers aren’t supposed to do!). Check out the Guidelines from LWVUS at the bottom of this page on what to look for now as government bodies change their meeting protocols, and see the attachment for guidance on what is acceptable procedure regarding suspending transparency processes. You can also watch the April 30 webinar from the First Amendment Coalition on "Accessing Public Meetings in California during the Coronavirus Pandemic".
This is a roundup of what jurisdictions are doing as of the end of March. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to add or change information in this listing!
The following jurisdictions clearly explain how to participate remotely in virtual government meetings:
Contra Costa County:
Start at https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/ and scroll down to News and information about county meetings. Board of Supervisor John Gioia’s office clarified the temporary policy responding to Governor Newsom’s COVID-19 executive order. This information is available on Board agendas going forward:
To slow the spread of COVID-19, the Health Officer’s Shelter Order of March 16, 2020, prevents public gatherings. In lieu of a public gathering, the Board of Supervisors meeting will be accessible via television and live-streaming to all members of the public as permitted by the Governor’s Executive Order 29-20. Board meetings are televised live on Comcast Cable 27, ATT/U-Verse Channel 99, and WAVE Channel 32, and can be seen live online at www.contracosta.ca.gov.
Persons who wish to address the Board during Public Comment or with respect to an item that is on the agenda may submit public comments to email@example.com either before or during the meeting.All comments submitted before the conclusion of the meeting will be included in the record of the meeting. When feasible, the Clerk of the Board also will read the comments into the record at the meeting, subject to a two-minute time limit per comment.
City of Concord:
Start at http://www.cityofconcord.org/ and click on the City Council Agenda icon to get to the page with the agenda, televised meeting (including archive), and instructions for public participation.
City of Lafayette:
At this time, Lafayette is posting information about remote participation on a meeting-by-meeting basis. Start by checking the City Council web page at https://www.lovelafayette.org/city-hall/city-council and look for "News" at the right side of the page for updated information.
City of Pleasant Hill:
Check individual agendas, found on the meetings webpage at https://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/277/Agendas. Instructions for accessing and participating in meetings have been added to the agendas for individual meetings -- see the example of the March 23, 2020 meeting at https://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3178.
City of Walnut Creek
Start at https://www.walnut-creek.org/government/public-meeting-agendas-and-videos/public-meeting-schedule. This page has information on watching council meetings on cable TV, and a link to streaming council meetings. At the upper left is a link to the remote participation page, https://www.walnut-creek.org/government/remote-public-comment, which gives directions on how to participate in Zoom meetings.
The following jurisdictions have little or no explanation of participating remotely other than viewing telecasts/webcasts. You may wish to contact them about their arrangements for citizen participation in meetings.
City of Antioch:
Streaming video of meetings can be accessed at https://www.antiochca.gov/government/city-council-meetings/. Check with the city to determine how to give input remotely -- newspaper accounts indicate that this is happening but not how.
City of Brentwood:
The city's meetings portal is at http://brentwoodca.iqm2.com/citizens/default.aspx. There is no information about remote public input for meetings.
City of Martinez:
The city's agendas and minutes are accessed at https://www.cityofmartinez.org/gov/meetings.asp. There is no information about virtual meetings or remote public input.
City of Oakley:
Information about streaming video of council meetings is at https://www.ci.oakley.ca.us/agendas-minutes-videos-archive/. There is no information about virtual meetings or remote public input.
City of Orinda:
The City cancelled meetings through April 7. The meetings portal at https://orindaca.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx indicates that it is possible to view live meetings in progress although there are no instructions on how to do this. Continue to check this portal page for more information about changes to city meetings, including virtual meetings with remote public participation.
City of Pittsburg:
Information about council meetings is on the website at http://www.ci.pittsburg.ca.us/index.aspx?page=110. There is a link on this page to the information about streaming media at http://www.ci.pittsburg.ca.us/index.aspx?page=110, but no remote public input information.
City of San Ramon:
The City cancelled upcoming meetings until early April. The meetings portal at http://sanramonca.iqm2.com/citizens/default.aspx? indicates that it is possible to view live meetings in progress although there are no instructions on how to do this. Continue to check this portal page for more information about changes to city meetings, including virtual meetings with remote public participation.
Town of Danville:
The City cancelled meetings through April 7. Check the webpage at https://www.danville.ca.gov/129/Agendas-Minutes for updated information on city meetings, including virtual meetings with remote public participation.
Town of Moraga:
The City cancelled meetings through April 7. Check the main city webpage at http://www.moraga.ca.us/ for updated information on city meetings, including whether the city will be doing virtual meetings with remote public participation.
Contra Costa Transportation Authority:
Meetings are being held through Zoom conferences/calls. For information on access each meeting, check the specific links and codes contained in the agenda for the meeting. Agendas are available on the agency's website at www.ccta.net.
LWVUS Advocacy Guidance for Virtual Transparency of Government Bodies
LWVUS has put together guidance for Leagues to use when working with government bodies regarding virtual meetings and transparency. We hope that these guidelines will help Leagues to advocate for open, transparent, and accessible processes for our government in the face of COVID-19 and future emergency situations that require limitation of in-person contact. Read the advisory memo on the League Management Site.