CEA board to re-evaluate virtual meetings

The CEA is a Community Choice Energy program
The CEA is a Community Choice Energy program launched by the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Carlsbad.
(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

The Clean Energy Alliance board of directors will meet on Jan. 12 to discuss whether to continue remote meetings as the state’s COVID-19 emergency is set to expire in about two months.

The CEA and all other government bodies were forced into remote meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last year, they have slowly been returning to normal in-person meetings.

“In this holiday time and as people are interacting so much and we’re seeing the case levels rise, at least for the next 30 days, it seems that it would be the safest to have our meetings remain virtual, and then in the new year to come back to in-person meetings when we’re ready and case levels are good again,” said board member Teresa Acosta, who represents Carlsbad.

Gov. Gavin Newsom amended the Brown Act, a state law that provides public access to government meetings, to allow virtual meetings during the pandemic. Officials have been worried about rising case numbers over the past several months.

According to a CEA staff report, government bodies can continue holding virtual meetings if they have “reconsidered the circumstances of the declared emergency” and “the emergency impacts the ability of the body’s members to meet safely in person,” or “state or local officials continue to impose or recommend measures to promote social distancing.”

The CEA staff report cites eight days from Nov. 21-28 that show a range of 297 to 703 cases reported on each date. In the most recent week that data is available, new cases range from 423 to 912. The seven-day rolling average dropped to under 10 cases per 100,000 residents this past fall, compared to about 58 per 100,000 during a summer surge months prior. That figure began climbing in November and has stayed above 20 so far throughout December.

There are now more than 950,000 confirmed cases in San Diego since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency. There have been more than 36,000 hospitalizations and 5,608 deaths.

Newsom announced in October that the statewide COVID-19 state of emergency will end on Feb. 28.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been guided by the science and data – moving quickly and strategically to save lives,” he said in a statement. “The State of Emergency was an effective and necessary tool that we utilized to protect our state, and we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without it. With the operational preparedness that we’ve built up and the measures that we’ll continue to employ moving forward, California is ready to phase out this tool.”