City Council Enact Ordinance to Modify Public Meeting and Public Practice and Procedures
On March 20, the Fairfax City Council held an emergency meeting to enact an ordinance to modify public meeting practices, in light of health-related guidelines associated with the Coronavirus 2019 ( COVID-19) pandemic.
This ordinance, effective through June 10, allows the City Council, Planning Commission, and other city boards and commissions to hold meetings through electronic communications.
Meetings, by law, require a quorum, or minimum number of members to be present to make the proceedings of that meeting valid. This ordinance allows board members participate remotely in a meeting, such as through electronic communications.
This flexibility allows boards and commissions to act on agenda items required by law “to be acted upon in a certain timeframe” — such as the adoption of the city’s annual budget, and the public hearings required to do so.
The ordinance also allows for public comment under statutory law. The law supports multiple means by which the public may participate in public hearings — including attending a meeting in person, in addition to other means such as electronic communications. Meeting notices also must continue to meet applicable laws.