Public Meetings in the Front Range During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Public Meetings in the Front Range During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Apr 17, 2020

Client Alert

Brownstein Client Alert, April 17, 2020

Throughout Colorado, public meetings of virtually all types are being disrupted by the outbreak of COVID-19. In light of the state’s restrictions on public gatherings, many local governments in the Front Range have had to work quickly to develop procedures to shift from in-person meetings to virtual meetings, adopting emergency ordinances and resolutions, and otherwise establishing new procedures. Other quasi-governmental entities, such as urban renewal authorities, business improvement districts and metropolitan districts also have switched from in-person meetings to virtual meetings.

Virtual meetings raise a variety of potential new issues, including technical glitches and susceptibility to hacking. Virtual meetings also could create constitutional due process issues in certain instances where a right to be heard is a key component of the process, such as quasi‑judicial matters. In such instances, a risk exists that either an applicant or a member of the public could claim their due process rights were violated because the alternative or virtual means of participating were not adequate or meaningful. Under normal circumstances, a member of the public who did not have access to a computer or the internet could participate in a virtual meeting by visiting their local library. But in the current situation, most libraries are also closed to in-person visits by the public. Because the COVID-19 outbreak has restricted peoples’ ability to participate in public hearings, some local governments are allowing alternative methods of comment to ensure that the public has adequate and meaningful means of participation. These alternative methods of comment are in addition to the typical methods of public comment like mail and email.

In light of the concerns raised by virtual meetings, local governments in the Front Range have taken four different types of approaches to hearing quasi‑judicial matters: (1) postpone all quasi‑judicial matters until an in-person meeting can be held; (2) proceed with quasi-judicial matters with consent of the applicant; (3) proceed with quasi‑judicial matters with applicant’s consent so long as the applicant agrees to waive future legal challenges; and (4) proceed with quasi-judicial matters as scheduled.

This client alert summarizes the approach of many of the local governments in the Front Range as to public meetings during the COVID-19 outbreak. All data is based on self‑reporting by the municipalities. Other organizations, such as the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties, Inc. also provide guidance and summaries on how local governments should and are proceeding with public meetings during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Click here to read more Brownstein alerts on the legal issues the coronavirus threat raises for businesses.

 

Jurisdiction

Website and Source of Authority

Key Points

Adams County

Website

Source of Authority: Order Declaring a Disaster in and for Adams County, Colorado

  • Technology
     
    • Meeting: Zoom or telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Email
       
  • End Date: April 26, 2020
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Arapahoe County

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution No. 200110

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Website or telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Webinar
       
  • End Date: No express end date stated in Resolution. Presumably until the Chairman or the Board of County Commissioners act to terminate or modify the Declaration of Local Disaster Emergency
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Cancelled

Arvada

Website

Source of Authority: Code of the City of Arvada, Colorado § 26‑41, Resolution No. R30-032

 

  • Technology: Zoom
     
  • End Date: April 30, 2020
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: None scheduled

 

Aurora

Website

 

Source of Authority: City Council Resolution No. R 2020-24

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Cisco Webex
       
    • Public Comment: Written
       
  • End Date: May 4, 2020
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board & Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Boulder

Website

Source of Authority: Ordinance 8391

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom
       
    • Public Comment: Telephone
       
  • End Date: When there is no longer an emergency or the declaration of emergency ends
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Boulder County

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution 2020-24

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Microsoft Teams
       
    • Public Comment: Written
       
  • End Date: When rescinded by the Board of County Commissioners
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Brighton

Website

Source of Authority: Emergency Electronic Participation Policy During Regular and Special City Council Meetings

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom or telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Zoom or written
       
  • End Date: When in-person meetings are practical or prudent
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Discouraged, but proceeding if necessary
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Cancelled

City and County of Broomfield

Website

 

Source of Authority: Resolution 2020‑108

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Audio streaming on website
       
    • Public Comment: Written or telephone
       
  • End Date: When in-person meetings are practical or prudent
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Castle Rock

Website

 

Source of Authority: Resolution 2020-040; Town Council Meeting Special Procedures During Declared Disasters

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Hosted on website and telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Written
       
  • End Date: June 30, 2020
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Centennial

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution 2020-R-12

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom and telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Zoom and written
       
  • Anticipated End Date: When the Mayor or City Manager declares it safe to meet in-person
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Cherry Hills Village

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution 8

  • Technology: Zoom
     
  • End Date: When the emergency passes
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Colorado Springs

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution 19-20

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Microsoft teams
       
    • Public Comment: Email or Facebook
       
  • End Date: May 1, 2020
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Commerce City

Website

Source of Authority: Emergency Ordinance

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom
       
    • Public Comment: Written and oral, to the extent possible
       
  • End Date: Upon the conclusion of the declared emergency or disaster
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

City and County of Denver

Website

Source of Authority: Emergency Rules of Procedure

  • Technology: Zoom
     
  • End Date: May 11, 2020
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Douglas County

Website

Source of Authority: Local Disaster Emergency Declaration

  • Technology:
     
  • Meeting: Cisco Webex and telephone
     
  • Public Comment: Cisco Webex and written
     
  • End Date: When the emergency has ended
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Englewood

Website

Source of Authority: CB-12; Emergency Preparedness/City Council Meeting Participation Policy

 

  • Technology: Zoom or telephone
     
  • End Date: When the Mayor declares the emergency has passed
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding only if there is a full quorum and all interested parties may meet in person
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Cancelled

Erie

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution 20-210; Remote Meeting Policy

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom
       
    • Public Comment: Telephone
       
  • End Date: April 30, 2020
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding with the applicant’s prior written consent, in which the applicant waives the legal challenge to the hearing being virtual
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Federal Heights

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution 20-14

  • Technology: GoToMeeting or telephone
     
  • End Date: When rescinded by City Council
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Nothing scheduled

Fort Collins

Website

Source of Authority: Emergency Ordinance 061, 2020

  • Technology: Cisco Webex
     
  • End Date: When in-person meetings are prudent
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Certain matters are proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Glendale

Website

Source of Authority: Emergency Ordinance

 

  • Technology: Not yet decided
     
  • End Date:
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not currently proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Golden

Website

Source of Authority: Electronic Participation Rules

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Cisco Webex
       
    • Public Comment: Facebook or email
       
  • End Date: When in-person meetings are practical or prudent
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Cancelled

Greenwood Village

Website

Source of Authority: Resolutions 2020-18, 2020-19

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Audio webcast
       
    • Public Comment: Written
       
  • End Date: May 5, 2020
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Jefferson County

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution CC20-055, Public Health Order 20‑001

  • Technology: Cisco Webex
     
  • End Date: April 26, 2020
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Nothing scheduled

Lafayette

Website

Source of Authority: Resolutions 2020-24, 2020-25

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom or telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Written
       
  • End Date: When the local emergency declaration is no longer in effect
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding if the applicant decides to proceed and agrees in writing to waive any legal challenge on the basis that the hearing is conducted virtually
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Cancelled

Lakewood

Website

Source of Authority: Motion to extend Proclamation issued by City Manager

  • Technology:
     
  • Meeting: Zoom
     
  • Public Comment: Website or telephone
     
  • End Date: When the emergency has ended
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding, but Lakewood will attempt to push matters to a time when hearings are being held in-person
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Littleton

Website

Source of Authority: Legislative Rules (amended 3/20/2020)

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom or telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Telephone or written
       
  • End Date: Once the local emergency declaration ends or the City Manager finds that convening the meeting is no longer inadvisable
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: No restriction on quasi-judicial matters
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Lone Tree

Website

Source of Authority: City Council Adopted Policy 20-01

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Microsoft Teams
       
    • Public Comment: Microsoft Teams or written
       
  • End Date: When the Mayor or any two City Council members determines an in-person meeting is practical or prudent
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding if the applicant consents in writing or on the record, and several other conditions are met
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Longmont

Website

Source of Authority: Longmont, Colorado Code of Ordinances § 2.20.125

  • Technology:
     
  • Meeting: Cisco Webex
     
  • Public Comment: City website, upload video to City website, or telephone
     
  • End Date: Once the emergency ends
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
    • Code contains a waiver of immunity from liability for emergency preparedness activities
       
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Cancelled

Louisville

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution Nos. 26, 27, 30

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom or telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Zoom or written
       
  • End Date: When an in-person meeting is practical and prudent under the pandemic
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding if applicant makes written request and acknowledges the legal uncertainties and agrees to defend and indemnify Louisville in an action arising out of a virtual meeting
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Cancelled

Northglenn

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution CR-120

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom or telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Written or telephone
       
  • End Date: When City Manager or Mayor determines in-person meeting is practical and prudent
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Not proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted

Parker

Website

Source of Authority: Ordinance No. 1.352.1., Series of 2020

  • Technology: Zoom or telephone
     
  • End Date: When an in-person meeting is practical or prudent under the pandemic
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Superior

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution No. R-24 Series 2020, Town of Superior Remote Meeting Policy

  • Technology: Zoom or telephone
     
  • End Date: When the Town’s and State’s declaration of emergency ends
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding with the prior written consent of the applicant, in which the applicant waives the legal challenge to the hearing being virtual
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Thornton

Website

Source of Authority: Thornton, Colorado Code of Ordinances § 4.23

  • Technology: Zoom or telephone
     
  • End Date: When the statewide declaration of emergency is rescinded
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Westminster

Website

Source of Authority: Resolution 4021

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: GoToMeeting or telephone
       
    • Public Comment: Writing only
       
  • End Date: When the state of emergency ends
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

Wheat Ridge

Website

Source of Authority: How to Participate in Virtual City Meetings

  • Technology:
     
    • Meeting: Zoom
       
    • Public Comment: Wheatridgespeaks, Zoom or telephone
       
  • End Date: Until further notice
     
  • Quasi-Judicial Matters: Proceeding
     
  • Other Board and Commission Meetings: Permitted virtually

 

 

Information is changing daily and some of the content included in this alert may have changed or been updated since publication.

This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding public hearings in Colorado during the COVID-19 pandemic. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this document or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact the attorneys listed or your regular Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP attorney. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions.

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