LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who will take over as chairwoman of the board on Tuesday, said Friday she will expand opportunities for the public to comment on items being discussed during board meetings.
During the pandemic, with the board shifting to remote meetings, the board changed its public participation procedures, holding one 90-minute public comment session at the beginning of its meetings to allow people to speak out telephonically on specific agenda items or on general topics not on the agenda.
The procedure led to some complaints, with callers forced to wait on hold for long periods of time, and some left unable to comment at all because of the sheer volume of callers trying to speak to the board in the 90-minute period.
The board recently returned to in-person meetings with limited attendance, allowing people to again speak to the board in person, but the public-comment window was still 90 minutes at the beginning of the meeting.
Hahn said that starting Tuesday, she will return to the pre-pandemic procedures that will allow for unlimited public comment taken as the board discusses each individual item. Those comments can be made either in person or telephonically.
“The changes that were made to the board meetings during the pandemic kept people safe but came at the expense of unlimited public access to our work,” Hahn said in a statement. “As chair, my goal is to increase the public’s ability to participate in our meetings and weigh in, in real-time, on policies the board is considering.”
Hahn said she also plans to convene an extra board meeting each month specifically reserved for public hearing items. She also said she hopes to expand the number of people permitted to attend board meetings in person — but not until the current surge of COVID-19 cases eases.