In July, the County Council discussed and then decided to return to in-person meetings in Council Chambers, with the option for members of the public to continue to join meetings via the Zoom online video platform remaining in place.
Zoom had been added during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The Council asked their various boards, commissions and committees (BCCs) to have a similar discussion at their meetings over the month of July and decide how to proceed – in-person only, Zoom only, or a “hybrid” using both options.
Two of the BCCs already made the decision in July to begin the hybrid option. The Board of Public Utilities began using the hybrid model July 21, and the Planning and Zoning Commission began using the hybrid meeting July 28.
As of July 31, most of the other BCCs have concluded that they also want to offer the hybrid option for attendance.
Effective dates for in-person attendance with Zoom option for BCC meetings decided so far:
- Historic Preservation Advisory Board Aug. 4;
- Transportation Board Aug. 5;
- Parks & Recreation Board Aug. 12;
- Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board Aug. 17; and
- Environmental Services Board Aug. 19.
Meetings will be held in either Council Chambers or the Boards and Commissions Room (Room 110 in the Municipal Building) to accommodate dual use of the Zoom and streaming option.
Other meetings of task force members or councils using the hybrid for future meetings include the Community Health Council, beginning with their Aug. 5 meeting, as well as the Tourism Implementation Task Force Aug. 4. The Resiliency, Energy and Sustainability Task Force will use the hybrid beginning with their first meeting in September.
The Library Board and the Art in Public Places Board will continue on Zoom through September and then those two boards will evaluate future meeting formats. A decision on meeting format is still to be determined by the Community Development Advisory Board and the recently appointed Racial Equity and Inclusivity Task Force.
Streaming meetings for the public to view proceedings of Council and other BCC continued to be unchanged during the pandemic and is still an option for those who only wish to watch a meeting online. PAC 8 also has continued to broadcast regular Council meetings on Channel 8 through Comcast television.
Some of the positive impacts voiced by the community and BCC members over the last few months have been that use of Zoom makes it easier for members of the public to participate from home when they might not otherwise be able to attend in-person, as well as Zoom’s video platform making it more convenient for BCC members to be at meetings when they are on travel or unable to attend in person for a variety of reasons.
Council work sessions formerly held in White Rock at Fire Station 3 have not resumed at this time, because of the technical challenges using Zoom and streaming simultaneously from that location.
The County Manager’s Office will continue to keep the community informed of these important changes about various ways to participate in all meetings as more information becomes available.
Agendas and Zoom links for meetings can be found on the main agenda page available on the County’s website.
Meetings also are recorded for later Video-on-Demand playback, typically within a day or two of each meeting.