Mayor Jerry Dyer tells GV Wire that the Fresno City Council chambers, closed since Aug. 19, are now open.
“We actually changed the policy yesterday,” Dyer said on Tuesday. “So it’s important, you know, we looked at what the (COVID-19) numbers are. They’re coming down.”
Last week, GV Wire reported that the ACLU was skeptical about the legality of closing the chambers to the public while elected officials met in person. The civil liberties organization said it was contemplating a lawsuit to open the chambers.
State open meeting laws require that the public be allowed to attend if the government body is meeting in person.
Mask Mandate in Place
“We do want to have access, but we also want to be careful with the health concerns.” — Mayor Jerry Dyer
Dyer said with the reopening, all visitors will have to wear a mask.
“We do want to have access, but we also want to be careful with the health concerns. Trying to achieve that balance is very delicate at times. But I do believe in openness and transparency, and so we want to have people back into council chambers,” Dyer said.
Capacity will be limited to 50%. Remote participation by Zoom will still take place, with links found on meeting agendas.
Full rules are listed in a new emergency order, released Monday.
The first city meeting with the public allowed to attend will be the planning commission meeting Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
Rules Changed Several Times
Since the pandemic, the policy has changed several times when it came to opening chambers. Meetings went all virtual, using Zoom technology. Chambers eventually reopened to the public, only to be shut again.
When Gov. Gavin Newsom issued statewide emergency orders, aspects of the Brown Act — the state’s open meeting law — changed.
For example, the orders allowed local governments to conduct meetings via technology such as phone calls or Zoom.