City Council decides Seal Beach will continue holding virtual meetings

The City Council this week approved a resolution to continue having virtual meetings. This was an item on the Consent Calendar. Consent items are voted on collectively, without discussion unless pulled from the calendar for separate consideration. This item wasn’t pulled for separate consideration.

Some cities are taking a different approach. Los Alamitos has held in-person  meetings for months. Avalon, on Catalina Island, holds a hybrid in-person /virtual meeting with some participants appearing in the council chambers and others participating by Zoom or by phone.

Seal Beach briefly returned to in-person meetings on March 28, but went back to the virtual format at the June 13 council meeting. Officials at the time cited COVID infections among city employees as the reason for the return to the virtual format.

The Seal Beach city manager and city attorney recommended that the council and city commissions continue having virtual meetings, according to this week’s staff report by City Attorney Craig Steele.

“The City Council has met remotely throughout the pandemic to protect the health and safety of the public and staff.

“Remote meetings under relaxed Brown Act rules were permitted by Governor Newsom’s executive Order N-29-20, which expired on September 30, 2021,” Steele wrote.

“In its place, the Legislature passed AB 361, which became effective October 1, 2021,” Steele wrote.

“State, County and City-declared states of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic remain in effect,” Steele wrote.

“Authorities, including Cal OSHA, recommend that businesses and entities continue to practice social distancing indoors as well as other measures to guard against the virus,” Steele wrote.

“Under the current circumstances, the City Council would be justified in determining that City bodies should continue to meet remotely under the rules set forth in Government Code Section 54953(e),” Steele wrote.

“Staff will provide the required real time public participation measures. As required by law, the City Council will review this matter every 30 days, as meeting schedules permit.