In a shift from its normal routine of hearing public comments, the Los Angeles City Council today allowed people to speak their peace remotely from the Spring Street Forecourt at City Hall, in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Though they couldn’t been seen on television, disembodied voices echoed through the chamber, giving comments and criticisms while City Council
President Nury Martinez called for caution and patience as the council continues to govern through the pandemic.
“In light of the situation, I have taken the necessary steps to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to limit the exposure of
anyone who comes into this building, and that includes the public waiting outside to make their public comment as well,” Martinez said. “As the
legislative body of the city, it is important to move the city’s business forward. However, with that being said, I want to make sure we are doing it
with the utmost consideration of others.”
Media personnel were not allowed to have cameras in the dais area, where reporters with credentials are typically allowed. The Council Chamber was also limited to only 50 people and council members were allowed just one staff member to be present, unless they made a special request.
“This pandemic has touched every corner of the world, and it is increasing at a global scale like we have never seen before,” Martinez said.
“We are in uncharted waters, and it is up to us to make sure we are doing our duty as public servants, and I hope we are doing that here today.”
People who aren’t city employees have not been allowed to enter City Hall since last week. The City Council is expected to meet March 24 and March 31, but all council committee meetings for the month have been canceled.
Several public speakers voiced their displeasure with having to wait outside to speak, as there were no heaters or outdoor restrooms.