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Southern California City Council Meetings Go Virtual

Huntington Beach, Calif., will move to virtual meetings starting next week, which is a move made in keeping with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandate to limit in-person gatherings that lead to the spread of COVID-19.

by Matt Szabo, Daily Pilot / January 13, 2021

(TNS) — The Huntington Beach, Calif., City Council will be moving to virtual meetings starting next week, the city announced Monday.

The move out of the council chambers is made in keeping with Gov.  Gavin Newsom  's mandate to limit in- person gatherings that can spread COVID- 19, according to a release. Orange County is currently experiencing a surge in cases and a shortage of intensive care unit beds, which has led many local school districts to return to distance learning.

Adjusted ICU bed capacity in Orange County currently sits at 0 %, and the Orange County Health Care Agency reported a single- day record 50 deaths due to COVID- 19 on Sunday.

"The health and safety of our residents is our highest priority, and online Council meetings are just one of several steps we 're taking to protect our community during this pandemic, " Huntington Beach Mayor  Kim Carr  said in a statement. "During this historic surge, we can 't afford to disregard public health guidelines that can save lives and restore our local economy, and we plan to do our part."

Switching to virtual meetings should also relieve some of the tension on the current City Council regarding mask usage. Mayor Pro Tem  Tito Ortiz , who has declined to wear a mask during the pandemic, attended last week 's strategic planning meeting from the parking lot of the Huntington Beach Central Library after Carr told him he couldn 't come into the meeting without one.

City Councilman  Dan Kalmick  also chided Ortiz and Councilman  Erik Peterson  for not wearing masks on the dais during the last regular City Council meeting on Dec. 21.

Kalmick said Tuesday that he 's glad that Carr made the switch to virtual meetings, joining nearby cities like Costa MesaIrvine and Seal Beach.

"We 're one of the few cities that 's still meeting in person, and there 's really no reason to meet in person if we have the technological means to do so, " he said. "I 'm happy that we 're moving to remote, especially as hospital beds are few and far between. Anything we can do to help move that needle in a good direction and make sure that we don 't get any staff sick, or endanger anybody else that would want to come to a meeting."

The next City Council meeting is Tuesday at 6 p.m., as Monday is a  Martin Luther King Jr . Day, a federal holiday.

The public will still be able to watch the meetings on the city 's website or HBTV Channel 3, and public comments will be allowed via Zoom.

(c)2021 the Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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