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When L.A. City Council meets, the public will comment from outside the building

City Council President Nury Martinez
If members of the public want to address the Los Angeles City Council at Tuesday’s meeting, they will have to stand outside in a courtyard. Above, Council President Nury Martinez.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Even amid the threat of the novel coronavirus, the Los Angeles City Council is planning to convene on Tuesday. But there will be big changes in the way the meeting is run.

With City Hall closed to the public, council members are asking the public to watch by remote, either on television or on streaming video, and offer their comments electronically.

Members of the public who are determined to address council members from a microphone will need to do so under a tent outside City Hall, said Rick Coca, spokesman for Council President Nury Martinez.

“There will be a mic and a monitor where they can see the meeting,” Coca said in an email. “And city staff will be cleaning and wiping down the area throughout and offering gloves to those who want them and asking people to stay six feet apart.”

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The tented area will be in a courtyard that faces Spring Street.

Council members will work to ensure there are no more than 50 people in the chamber, bringing in only their most essential staff, Coca said. Members of the news media seated in the audience will be kept more than six feet apart, he said.

Television crews will no longer be allowed in the area where council members are seated, Coca added.

The changes come nearly a week after Martinez announced she would scale back the number of council meetings to once a week, down from three. Committee meetings have been canceled for the rest of the month.

Garcetti moved last week to close City Hall to the public, while also requiring many city employees to keep showing up. Also closed are 73 libraries, scores of recreation centers and dozens of swimming pools and aquatic centers.

Some agencies, such as the Department of Building and Safety, are continuing to provide city services. Police officers, firefighters and paramedics are still on hand to respond to emergencies. In addition, sanitation workers are continuing to pick up trash.

A dozen golf courses were still open on Monday afternoon, with partitions being installed to separate members of the public.


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