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Will LA County’s Board of Supervisors ever get back to in-person meetings? Time will tell – Daily News

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meetings will remain virtual, at least for the time being, officials said Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to meet via teleconference with each other and the public, citing pandemic-era public safety concerns keeping them away from the large, in-person chambers in Downtown L.A.

For months during the pandemic, the Board has held its meeting every two weeks online only, with the public able to submit written comment and call in to comment on agenda items.

For the first several weeks of such meetings, the Board drew scrutiny over its restriction of public comment to email and mail — insisting it was in compliance with relaxed Brown Act requirements.

Under state law, governments are able to hold remote meetings if local officials continue recommend measures to promoted social distancing.

“Those conditions are still in effect ” said Celia Zevala, the board’s executive officer told the supervisors.

It wasn’t clear when the in-person board meetings may start up again. The same law requires a reassessment every 30 days after a decision on whether to keep the chamber closed. “At that time it is deemed appropriate to reconvene in person, my staff and I will be prepared and will have the necessary precautions in place.”

Those precautions will include continued telephonic comment, in-person and written comment. Face coveringswill be required. There will be designated floor markings, and frequent microphone sanitizing. Journalists will be seated in designated areas off the dais. A signup system will enable public speakers to get in line to speak using a QR code on their cell phone.

But none of that will happen until the chamber is reopened to Board meetings.

“We’re back at work and been at work every week since the pandemic started and I think people can see that,” said  Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, while supporting the continued meetings while online. “Given the health crisis, it’s going to be hard to control a mask requirements. I don’t even know whether all of our Sheriff’s deputies will be vaccinated. I’m happy to continue as appropriate every 30 days. I feel much safer, though I miss you all very much. I think the public is still very well served.”

Supervisor Hilda Solis also noted recent upticks in COVID-19 going into the winter time, when Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer worries that a county still at “substantial” risk of transmission is vulnerable to surges.

Los Angeles County supervisor Shelia Kuehl, left, talks with supervisor Katherine Barger at the LA County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

“We just still have to stay on it and hopefully get through this holiday season and hopefully be able to come back into our board room, meet with people and hear from them,” Solis said.

After months of virtual meetings, though, some members of the public are becoming wary of the virtual meetings, prompting questions about why.

“Dr. Ferrer allowed the Emmys to go forward — but for some reason the County Board of Supervisors needs to continue the teleconferencing sessions that are a poor substitution for in-person meetings.  How much longer will the Board remain sequestered from the public they purport to serve?” asked county resident Genevieve Clavreul, who lodged her comment through the written public comment.

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