The Coast News Group

Escondido council meetings open to the public starting April 21

ESCONDIDO – The public will be able to physically attend Escondido City Council meetings starting April 21 — the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Since March 2020, Escondido, along with other cities in the county, has held council meetings virtually with most council members tuning in through a virtual platform.

The public has been submitting comments via email, which City Clerk Zack Beck reads out loud at each council meeting.

The city said that starting April 21, meetings will once again be held within the council chambers with the public invited to attend. The option of submitting a written comment via email will still be available to the community.

At the council’s last meeting, members discussed a proposal by Councilman Joe Garcia to provide a way for residents to submit public comments in their own voices rather than relying on Beck to read each comment out loud.

City staff offered options like voice mail messages that could be played during meetings, live calls to people who have pre-registered and implementation of a new video conferencing platform.

Councilman Mike Morasco chimed in and suggested they go back to meeting in council chambers.

“My primary recommendation is we get back into council chambers,” Morasco said. “Other cities are having meetings inside council chambers. We have the room and the capacity and we have the ability to space, so that would be my preference.”

Councilwoman Tina Inscoe supported Morasco’s proposal.

Mayor Paul McNamara pointed out that having residents call-in would most likely take up a lot more time, but also suggested that virtual meetings have increased public participation.

“The truth of the matter is we’ve had more people because they don’t have to come to the meeting, make comments about whatever the topic may be,” McNamara said.

City Manager Jeffrey Epp advised the council not to adopt new public comment practices, as he expected the city to return to in-person meetings in the coming weeks.

The council’s next meeting is on April 7 and will be held virtually.