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This new report from California Common Cause, analyzing a survey of one-quarter of California cities, finds that remote public participation options at city council meetings are feasible for cities to offer, both from an administrative and financial perspective, and help expand public participation in local government.

The survey, which roughly one-fourth of all California cities responded to over a two month period in 2023 (June 20 to August 9), asked city clerks to provide their opinion on various aspects of remote public comment at city council meetings, including implementation, continued use, costs, and perceived benefits and hindrances of the medium. City clerks are at the ground level of municipal democracy, managing city council meetings and public participation in them.

In the post-pandemic period, lawmakers in Sacramento have only been willing to expand remote public participation options for local governments on the condition that local officeholders wish to use those remote options as well, at times arguing that offering remote public participation free of conditions would be too costly or too burdensome. This report provides actual data from California cities that should help with lawmaking in this area going forward.

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