It should be easier to attend Community Board meetings than it is to watch your favorite TV show. Unfortunately, for years it was hard for many and near impossible for others to participate in this vital democratic institution. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw that it was not only possible to hold Community Board meetings virtually, the benefits of that increased accessibility increased participation and were good for their communities.
As the city and state continue to move beyond the daily crisis of COVID-19 and toward a post-pandemic future, we should not return to the status quo of only letting people engage in civic participation when they can attend in person. While there are definitely merits to in-person meetings, hybrid or virtual meetings offer a critical level of flexibility and greater participation from underrepresented communities. Parents can cook dinner and debate education at the same time. Disabled and home-bound community members no longer have to call Access-A-Ride or worry about accommodations to fight for more accessible transit and development. All of these improvements are at risk though, if the state doesn’t take action and allow these meetings to remain remote by today, March 16, which is when Gov. Hochul’s emergency order is set to expire.
Read the full op-ed HERE.