Press "Enter" to skip to content

Charlottesville City Council to meet with in-person option for first time in two years

Members of the public will be able to enter Charlottesville’s City Council Chambers on Monday for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city is planning to hold its first hybrid City Council meeting since March 2020. Up to 23 members of the public who pre-register will be able to attend Monday’s meeting in person, while the virtual Zoom option will remain for people who prefer to watch from home.

David Dillehunt, the city’s Deputy Director of Communications, said available seats will be spaced six feet apart. Using that spacing, the city determined the space could accommodate 23 members of the public.

If more than 23 people sign up, those who register will be put in a lottery, and 23 will be selected to attend. Dillehunt said mask-wearing is strongly encouraged but not mandated, and attendees are encouraged to social distance when not seated.

“Those [guidelines] are there to hopefully steer the public into maintaining safe space. And I would assume that if that time comes that those restrictions go away then certainly we’ll look at not having the six feet of separation clearly visible, but I’m not sure of any timetable when it comes to that,” Dillehunt said.

All members of City Council, the Interim City Manager, the Clerk of Council, the city attorney and two preselected media representatives will be in council chambers alongside the members of the public. All presentations by other parties will be given virtually.

Dillehunt said the city has been working for several months to integrate the technology for hybrid meetings and that much of the technology has already been in place. Former communications director Brian Wheeler ran several City Council meetings from chambers in 2021 in order to start preparing a hybrid approach. In the last month, communications staff members have had “mock meetings” to test the audio.

“I’ve been telling folks, there might be a few hiccups certainly in this first one because it’ll be the first full-scale implementation of this hybrid setup. And I think the same thing that a lot of other governing bodies have run into with, like a little bit of feedback or echo or something, might be there in the beginning but we plan on fully mitigating all of that as quickly as possible. I would not imagine that that would occur at any lengthy duration at all,” Dillehunt said.

Dillehunt said a City Council retreat at CitySpace earlier this month provided some good practice for holding meetings in that space, where other boards and commissions may eventually meet in a hybrid fashion if all goes according to plan.

While that retreat’s online broadcast had some audio issues that made it difficult for members of the public to hear at times, Dillehunt said he is working with building staff to fix the issue in CitySpace, and the audio equipment in council chambers should not have the same problems.

Dillehunt said four other boards and commissions – Planning Commission, Board of Architectural Review, Human Rights Commission and Police Civilian Oversight board—will all receive technology support from the communications staff when they choose to move to a hybrid approach.

Those interested in attending Monday’s meeting in person must preregister by visiting tinyurl.com/4xwuz5ft.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    %d bloggers like this: