Though the Denver City Council intended to return to in-person meetings next week, that plan has been postponed due to the need for further testing of new technological equipment.
The City Council announced the delay Monday, pushing the in-person start date from June 21 to an unspecified date in early July. The council’s meeting with Mayor Michael Hancock on Tuesday will be the only in-person meeting this week.
“After a first test of new equipment in Council Chambers today, we are postponing the return of in-person meetings,” the announcement read. “While all the equipment is installed and working, there is a lot of adjustment and fine-tuning that needs to be done."
This comes as the City Council was set to vote on an ordinance Monday to allow remote options for participating in council meetings after the meetings revert back to in-person.
The ordinance, sponsored by Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer, would require the council to provide the public with the ability to watch and participate in in-person City Council meetings via methods such as Zoom.
It would also allow council members to participate in meetings virtually in the case of general emergencies (defined as disaster or emergency declarations) or personal emergencies (including work travel and personal or medical emergencies).
Due to the technical issues, the council unanimously voted to postpone the final vote on the ordinance from Monday to June 28.
“We need to delay it a couple of weeks," said Sawyer, who introduced the postponement. “We’re almost there; it’s just a couple of last tweaks that need to get done to make sure the user experience is the best that it possibly can be.”
City workers, including the City Council, began working remotely during summer 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, moving council meetings to Zoom for the first time.
An online survey of 329 Denver residents found that 51.67% of respondents want council meetings to return to in-person after the pandemic ends; however, 90.27% want the meetings to continue to provide remote options.
Sawyer said the closed captioning and translation services provided by the council’s current Zoom meetings allow more residents to participate, in addition to providing access for residents who live far from the City Council building, don’t have transportation and/or have to care for their children.
And, by restarting in-person meetings as well, the City Council is also opening participation up to people without access to technology, including homeless residents.