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Government business continues in isolation during COVID-19 pandemic

John Orona
Staff Writer

By the numbers

As of May 15

Number of COVID-19 cases in Nevada County: 41

Number in western county: 12

Number in eastern county: 29

Number of active cases: zero

Number of recoveries: 40

Number of deaths: 1

Learn more at http://www.theunion.com/coronavirus

Elected officials are balancing public participation and the need to keep government operations moving.

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order temporarily suspending some provisions of the Brown Act for the duration of the pandemic, local officials have had to weigh what is appropriate to act on given the limitation of public input without in-person meetings.

While some major projects across Nevada City, Nevada County and Grass Valley have been put on hold, others have continued despite the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on public access to information.

According to Nevada City Manager Catrina Olson, the city is trying to limit what it takes on during meetings.

“The public requested early on that the city only address COVID-related and essential, time sensitive business,” Olson said in an email. “The city has tried very hard to adhere to those requests. We have continued items to a later date.”

The city has postponed a public hearing on a sign variance for the National Hotel and work on some projects like the parking structure on Spring Street.

The city’s 5G wireless telecom ordinance was set to be amended at a City Council meeting last month, but the item was held as well.

The amendments went before the council again this week, but were continued to its next meeting to further modify the recommendations.

Olson said the online participation has been below the amount the city is accustomed to for in-person meetings.

In Grass Valley, Mayor Lisa Swarthout said the city hopes to have a way to more meaningfully take public comment by July, but so far projects like Dorsey Marketplace and a recent move directing staff to prepare for attempts to regulate and tax cannabis have gone forward.

Last month county officials held off on amending the county’s outdoor events ordinance to increase the number of allowable events from four per year to eight, and modify the permitting process in order to get more public feedback.


Nevada City and Grass Valley are both hosting meetings on YouTube.

People can submit public comment to the Grass Valley City Council before meetings by voicemail at 530-274-4390 or by emailing public@cityofgrassvalley.com.

Prior to meetings public comments for Nevada City Council meetings can be emailed to nevadacity.olson@gmail.com.

During the public comment period of Nevada City Council meetings, people can also comment using the YouTube chat feature.

People can access Nevada County Board of Supervisors meetings on its website, on Nevada County Media Channel 17 in western County, and on Suddenlink Channel 78 in eastern County.

People can call 530-264-0554 to comment by voicemail, email BOS.PublicComment@co.nevada.ca.us, or leave a comment online at http://www.mynevadacounty.com/822/Meeting-Information-Video-Streaming.


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To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

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