PORT ANGELES — Discussion by Port of Port Angeles commissioners of an $8.5 million settlement to restore the city’s polluted harbor, originally set for Tuesday, will have to wait, thanks to Zoom.
The board’s first regular meeting that the public has been able to attend in person since March 2020 was abruptly adjourned 23 minutes after it began and rescheduled to 1 p.m. Monday.
Technical difficulties made it impossible for residents to participate via Zoom, which due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions has been the sole meeting venue since last spring.
“We are having trouble technology-wise,” Executive Director Karen Goschen said after meeting deliberations were halted.
“Previously on our Zoom meetings, the public would be able to log into Zoom and then hear, and then raise a hand for the public comment session.
“For some reason, Zoom is not allowing anyone to come in.”
The board was scheduled to review the port’s $1.7 million portion of an $8.5 million Natural Resource Damage Assessment agreement to restore Port Angeles Harbor, the largest natural deep-water harbor on the West Coast.
Port lobbyist Bruce Beckett of Gig Harbor was giving the commissioners a legislative update when Deputy Executive Director John Nutter cut into his presentation.
“Commission, I hate to interrupt you, but unfortunately we are currently in violation of the [state] Open Public Meetings Act because Zoom is not allowing the public to join without a passcode, which has not been provided to them,” Nutter said.
“So, we’re taking calls from public members and the city of PA that are unable to join, and they are claiming that we are in violation of OPMA and to adjourn this meeting and reschedule it,” he said.
Commissioner Colleen McAleer suggested city officials drive to the meeting to attend it in person.
“We by law are required to make this available,” Nutter said of the Zoom connection.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@ peninsuladailynews.com.