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Will Fresno City Council End Public Comments Via Zoom?
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 4 weeks ago on
June 26, 2024

The Fresno City Council is considering ending public comments using Zoom. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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A pandemic-era method to participate in Fresno City Council meetings could end as soon as Thursday.

Councilmembers Garry Bredefeld and Miguel Arias propose to end comments via Zoom “to encourage in-person public participation in Council meetings” according to their motion.

“Zoom for Council meetings was initiated when the COVID pandemic was taking place. The pandemic has been long over and Zoom should have ended as well,” Bredefeld told GV Wire.

Bredefeld said other cities have ended remote public participation.

“Lastly, Council President (Annalisa Perea) has expanded opportunities for people to speak. For example, at the last council meeting there were eight public comment opportunities and many individuals spoke more than once. These numerous opportunities to address the council will continue,” Bredefeld said.

The proposed resolution would also “urge” the city manager to allow for free parking around City Hall on days with council meetings.

The council is set to debate the motion at Thursday’s meeting, 9 a.m. at Fresno City Hall (2600 Fresno Street in downtown Fresno).

Good Government Group Doesn’t Buy the Reasoning

California Common Cause supports keeping remote public comment, as well as in-person comments. Sean McMorris, the group’s transparency, ethics, and accountability program manager, said most cities saw an increase in civic engagement when they allowed remote participation.

“Broader feedback is better for democracy, but you’re limiting the pool of public participants if you mandate they must show up in person to participate.” Sean McMorris, California Common Cause

McMorris called the argument that ending remote participation would increase in-person attendance “incorrect.”

There are several reasons, McMorris said, people cannot attend in person: lack of transportation, working during meeting hours, and child care.

“Broader feedback is better for democracy, but you’re limiting the pool of public participants if you mandate they must show up in person to participate,” McMorris said.

Pandemic Policy Made Permanent in 2021

The city council started using Zoom as a way for the public to offer opinions on specific agenda items, or for general public comment, shortly after the pandemic started in March 2020. After early growing pains — constant Zoom bombing and occasional nudity — Zoom has been a constant part of participation.

An emergency order from Gov. Gavin Newsom also enshrined remote public participation. The order expired in 2023.

In September 2021, the city council made Zoom a permanent option on a 7-0 vote. Six of the councilmembers remain on the dais.

Where Councilmembers Stand

Councilmember Nelson Esparza originally sponsored the 2021 measure.

“I’m inclined to oppose the item, but open to hearing arguments in support tomorrow,” he told GV Wire.

Councilmembers Luis Chavez and Mike Karbassi said they have not decided.

Perea and Tyler Maxwell did not respond to requests for comment.

The resolution only applies to public comments via Zoom. Meetings will still be streamed — with closed captioning — and translated into Spanish, Hmong, and Punjabi.

State law allows for remote public comment, but only if a member of the city council participates remotely as well.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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