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California

L.A. to scale back public meetings at City Hall to limit coronavirus spread

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez
City Council President Nury Martinez said Wednesday she is scaling back the number of council meetings held at City Hall.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez announced Wednesday that she and her colleagues will impose a sweeping reduction in the number of public meetings at City Hall, part of a larger effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In a letter to her colleagues, Martinez said the council will go from three meetings per week to one for the remainder of the month. She also canceled all council committee meetings, which are devoted to such topics as public safety, planning and the city budget.

Martinez also called for a minimum number of council staffers to be on the council floor during public meetings.

“If you haven’t already, I ask that you consider rescheduling any large-scale events in your district and curtail field staff’s attendance at any large-scale events or meetings,” she said in the letter. “For our purposes, we have the people’s business to carry on and we are trying to do that while minimizing risk and exposure for all.”

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The council will also temporarily stop staging ceremonial presentations, which honor dignitaries, community leaders, entertainers and others.

The council will have three meetings this month: March 17, 24 and 31. City and county officials are scheduled to appear at the council’s Tuesday meeting to discuss the local response to the coronavirus pandemic.

No word has been given on the public meetings held by the city’s network of commissions, which are responsible for such agencies as the Department of Water and Power, the Port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports.

Martinez’s announcement came hours after the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed its first coronavirus-related death and several new cases, bringing the county’s total to 28. A growing number of colleges and universities, including Cal State Long Beach and Pepperdine, have suspended in-person classes in favor of online instruction.

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