Sec. 609, Timely access to public information - Pittsburgh Open Government Amendment

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Sec. 609

609.   Timely access to information


Except in emergencies, the public has a right to information in enough time for its evaluation and the formation of comment.

a.       All available information pertaining to proposals before the City for legislative or administrative action shall be available to the public in such advance time as to enable members of the public to evaluate, consider, and make comment prior to the action, excepting in cases of a declared emergency where it is necessary to take immediate action.


For people to formulate their best possible comment, they need to have access to all the available information that is relevant to the subject of a forthcoming hearing. Neither the government nor private individuals can simply withhold information which would affect or limit the public's ability to comment. Even if it was not deliberately withheld, if substantive information becomes available which could affect public testimony, then public comment must be reopened.

b.       In any case where a public hearing is to be held, all information included in presentations related to the decision process and the subject and purpose of the hearing and such other information as is substantively germane shall be made available and accessible to the public when the schedule for the hearing is set.  If any such information becomes available after the hearing schedule is set or it is known or becomes known prior to the hearing that such information will become available in a reasonable time after the hearing is to be held, the hearing shall be canceled and a new hearing date shall not be set until after such pertinent information is made available.  If new information or a new presentment of information, either of which could substantively affect or assist the public in its comment, should become available after the public hearing and before action on the matter, an opportunity for a new hearing shall be provided and given applicable public notice.  All such information shall be made available and publicly accessible online, in print at all public libraries, and at such public buildings as may be appropriate.


Where information is germane to an action or the subject of a hearing, then the maximum possible access to it needs to be given, both through its placement or location and the use of alternative media or technologies.

c.       Where a physical model or alternative means which can only be available at limited sites is used to convey information related to a proposed legislative or administrative action or to the subject of a public hearing, in addition to otherwise complying with Sec. 609(b), it shall be made available to the public in such easily accessible, germane location(s) as appropriate.  Images of such quality and number sufficient to adequately convey the visual information of the site limited presentation, an explanation of it, and other related, easily reproduced germane material, such as audio recordings, etc., shall be made available online, at public libraries, and other appropriate public buildings.  Use of such other technically feasible means of presentation as may best enable the public and officials to experience and better understand relevant information, such as 3D computer modeling, interactive capabilities, or such other technologies as may become available, shall be encouraged and may be required.


If there is substantive change to a proposed action, people must be given an opportunity to reconsider and comment on the matter.

d.       Where at any time a substantive change is made to a proposed or planned administrative matter to which public comment and notice is applicable and the decision for which the city is a participating party, the public comment process shall be reopened and its commensurate scheduling applied.