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Tustin city leaders are expected to start allowing members of the public to verbally comment during city council meetings, starting March 2.
Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public will be able to join the Zoom meetings through a computer or phone, with detailed instructions on how to join provided on the city’s website, social media pages, and agenda before each session.
“I believe it does add another element to the discussion when we can hear directly from the public,” said Tustin Mayor Leticia Clark at last week’s city council meeting. “…it does add another element of transparency and accountability.”
Before this update, citizens seeking remote input to meetings could only submit E-comments by emailing the City Clerk or through the city’s website before or during meetings.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order declaring a state of emergency back in March 2020 due to the pandemic allowed city councils to suspend public meeting requirements.
Since then, Orange County residents have continued to face challenges in commenting to public agencies throughout the pandemic shutdown.
Most recently, cities like Anaheim and Orange are grappling with how to handle public comment.
In Orange, the public could only comment during a recent city council meeting by speaking in-person. Written comments were not read aloud.
Anaheim council members were at odds over allowing in-person public input due to the pandemic at last week’s council meeting, with some emphasizing the need for additional options for public comment.
The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District board of education also recently came under fire for not video broadcasting meetings and not allowing people to call-in, forcing those wanting to comment to come in-person.
The next Tustin city council meeting is on March 2 at 5:30 p.m. and can be seen on the city’s website.
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