Thirty-one members of Community Board 7 (who aren’t quite ready to attend in-person meetings) are petitioning to amend a law so that they can continue meeting virtually, Patch was first to report.
When Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency in March 2020, it meant that boards could pivot towards hosting virtual meetings which members of the public were free to tune into. But once the State of Emergency was lifted in June 2021, one clause of the Open Meetings Law “ha[d] for all practical purposes eliminated the ability of Community Boards and the other Boards to meet via virtual platforms,” a letter signed by the board members and addressed to New York State and City leaders stated.
The clause they refer to is Section 103(c) – which “imposes the requirement that the public have meaningful physical access to each site from which a member of a Board accesses the videoconference.” This would essentially mean that members of the general public would need access to board members’ apartments during the time of each meeting, which would defeat the purpose of meeting virtually.
July’s board meeting was cancelled because too few people were comfortable going in person, and the clause mentioned above made a virtual meeting undoable. CB7 (and all community boards) take off in August (with most taking July off as well), so September will likely be the month when this becomes a bigger issue throughout the city.
Community Board 7’s next board meeting is scheduled for September 9 at St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church at 263 West 86th Street, though CB7 “encourage[s] members of the public to continue attending [its] meetings remotely.'”