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City council returns to in-person meetings

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

The City of Claremont will return to conducting its business at city hall beginning with the city council meeting on December 14. City Manager Adam Pirrie announced the change in his weekly community update last Friday.

The city will now conduct council meetings in a hybrid fashion with combined in-person and virtual attendance.

“The city council will begin hybrid meetings in the city council chamber on Tuesday, December 14 at 6:30 p.m. Seating will be limited and all persons present will be required to wear a mask at all times. The meeting will also be streamed live on the Zoom platform. Public comments will be accepted in person, through the Zoom platform, and in writing,” according to a news release from the city.

City officials encourage residents with health concerns to continue to view the meetings online. They also ask that anyone who is feeling sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay at home. However, proof of vaccination will not be required to attend a meeting.

All city meetings, including city council, commissions and committees have been conducted online since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. Around that same time all other public meetings also went online including the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education, the Claremont Chamber of Commerce and numerous service organizations.

In the past few months, board of education meetings nearly all non-city public gatherings have returned to in-person attendance, making the city council a noticeable outlier.

Pirrie said he was concerned about inviting the public back to the council chambers before it’s safe and noted that attendance at council meetings is greater than at school board meetings. He also said he wanted to ensure his staff was comfortable.

“Staff has been working to identify technology solutions that will allow us to conduct hybrid meetings whereby the community will have the option to participate either in person or remotely using Zoom,” Pirrie told COURIER publisher Peter Weinberger back in November.

Weinberger wrote a column for the paper that published on November 5 calling on the city to begin holding hybrid meetings.

“The good news is hybrid meetings are even better than in-person-only meetings, especially for seniors, for whom travel may be difficult, or for others who are just not comfortable in any group settings. In fact, hybrid should be here to stay,” Weinberger wrote in his column.

The city has yet to announce when commissions and committees will return to in-person attendance, but that announcement is expected soon.

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