OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Oakland City Council must open upstairs gallery seating for the Tuesday’s meeting after an Alameda County judge issued a temporary restraining order against the city Monday, a city employee union organizer said.
The order is in response to a complaint filed Friday by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, which represents 828 city employees.READ MORE: Cal Fire Confirms Estrada Fire Sparked by Controlled Burn, Holding at 150 Acres; Evacuations Ordered
The union charges the council prevented city workers and other Oakland residents from accessing meetings in violation of the state Brown Act and the Oakland Sunshine Ordinance.
The judge said in court today he would sign an order to reopen the gallery seating Tuesday morning which would be effective immediately, IFPTE organizer Michael Seville said. The order would be effective for 21 days and would still allow the council to prevent people from standing in back, which had been allowed in the past.
“We feel good about the decision and we’re happy that we were able to prevail,” Seville said.
The upstairs gallery areas of the council chamber have been closed to the public during meetings since shortly after May 5, when an Oakland City Council meeting was shut down by housing activists protesting a plan to sell a city-owned parcel of land for a high-rise housing development.
Those not allowed inside have to watch on television screens from overflow rooms or outside the council chamber.READ MORE: Car Fleeing CHP Causes AC Transit Bus to Plow Into Oakland Home
During public comment periods, people signed up to speak have been escorted into the chamber to make their statement and then had to leave again.
In a response filed today, the city argued the move was due to a pattern of disruptive behavior at council meetings, including the May 5 protest, which created safety concerns.
The union’s complaint alleges the enforcement has reduced the number of people able to attend City Council meetings by more than half. When nearly 100 members of the union arrived at the June 22 meeting, most were not allowed into the chambers.
Union members are planning to attend Tuesday’s meeting, when the council is expected to approve the city’s budget for the next two years.
“The city budget is an extremely important issue to Local 21 and its members as it affects virtually all aspects of their work as city employees and, for those who are residents, it affects their public services,” the complaint stated.
City officials did not respond to requests for comment Monday.MORE NEWS: Marin County Judge Tentatively Rejects Cutting Inmate Crowding at San Quentin
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