The big news out of the Bend Park & Recreation District’s board meeting last week was that the board moved forward on reducing fees for affordable housing.
Feel free to applaud. The board deserves it.
But also at the meeting, the district tried to get more back to normal. Ever since the park district meetings went virtual, live public comments have been missing in action. It began allowing them again last week. Several people took the opportunity and spoke during the meeting about the fees and affordable housing.
The public never completely lost its ability to comment on what the district is doing during the pandemic. They could always send in emails or submit letters. There is something special about being an actual part of the meeting, speaking to the board more directly. It is certainly more of a guarantee that the board hears it and also that other members of the public do, too.
The Bend City Council has already been allowing live public comment. So does the Deschutes County Commission. The Bend-La Pine Schools have not, which is a shame because it has been deep in a debate over the new superintendent and how to reopen schools.
Juggling the technology is not easy for government bodies And some members of the public don’t have the ability to connect even if it is allowed. But it is important that government bodies make the effort to allow the public to speak live at meetings.