Urge the City of San José to bring back virtual public comment!
San José City Clerk
Effective February 6, 2024, the City of San José decided to limit verbal public comments to in-person only for all meetings of City legislative bodies, which include the City Council, Council Committees, City Decision-Making Bodies, City Boards, City Committees, City Commissions, Task Forces, City Other Advisory Entities subject to the Brown Act, and Joint Power Authority legislative bodies.
The City has decided to take this action in light of the frequent Zoom interruptions from public commenters, including frequent disruptions from people using hate speech. However, rather than coming up with solutions to swiftly cut off these Zoom interruptions, the City is now creating additional barriers to meeting participation, which impacts the entire community.
Allowing public comment over Zoom has vastly expanded who can participate in city government. San José City Council is a full-time body with meetings that run all day. Zoom access has allowed members of the public to give comments without spending hours at city hall.
The threshold for community participation is already so high that in-person-only comments only increase the barriers, especially for low-income residents, working people, disabled people, students, and parents with children.
Please join the Housing Action Coalition, Greenbelt Alliance, South Bay Yimby, Catalyze SV, and sign this petition to ask the San José City Clerk to continue virtual public comment.
San José City Clerk
From: [Your Name]
I am writing to express my concern regarding the recent decision to limit verbal public comments to in-person only for all meetings of City legislative bodies.
The decision to transition to in-person-only public comments is a response to frequent disruptions and hate speech during virtual meetings. However, instead of implementing solutions to address the hate speech directly, the City has opted to restrict access to meetings. This decision disproportionately affects marginalized communities and individuals who may face barriers to attending in person.
Allowing public comment over Zoom has vastly expanded who can participate in city government. San José City Council is a full-time body, with meetings that run all day, and Zoom access has allowed members of the public to give comments without spending hours at City Hall.
The threshold for community participation is already high, and requiring in-person attendance further marginalizes residents, particularly those who are low-income, working, disabled, students, or parents with children. Many individuals rely on virtual platforms to engage with their local government due to various constraints like transportation limitations, childcare responsibilities, and health concerns.
I urge the San José city clerk to reconsider this decision and explore alternative solutions to address disruptions during virtual meetings that maintain accessibility for all residents. Measures such as muting options, stricter enforcement of meeting guidelines, and more involved moderation can help mitigate disruptions without excluding members of the community from participating in civic processes.