Public comment can be a daunting and nerve-wracking prospect to many of us.
Here’s our attempt to break it down to hopefully make it more approachable for those of you looking to advocate for your communities.
Public comment is a great way to make clear our communities’ concerns and requests and to boost the signal of our causes.
Another good resource: 13 Tips for Successful Advocacy
When is the meeting?
It can be difficult to know when is the right time to speak up about a given issue.
The best time is when the item is on the agenda and the council/committee members can discuss it the same night.
The second best time is most other times. It’s not always best to wait for the council to agendize your issue, since without the impetus provided by public outcry it will often end up being sidelined by shinier tasks.
There are several channels you can use to find out when a meeting is taking place.
What/When is the Agenda item?
This one is pretty straightforward.
Once the agenda has been published (Usually the week before the meeting), find it in the Legistar page.
In the PDF, there will be a list of items, find the number (3.1, 7.2, 8.1, etc) corresponding to yours.
If there is no such agenda item, you can speak during the item labeled ORAL COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE PUBLIC ON NONAGENDIZED ITEMS.
Depending on the structure of the meeting, this might mean you have to show up early to be able to speak, or you might have to wait until longer items are resolved for the Council to get to yours.
What are you asking for?
Work together with other speakers in advance to make it clear what action you want the City to take.
It can often be summed up in one sentence, e.g. “We want rent control to cover Mobile Homes and Mobile Home Spaces”
As long as you make that point clear, you’ve done your job.
Anything else you’d like to provide is icing on the cake. Share your story, help them to understand why you’re there.
Maybe you aren’t able to make it to the meeting. Maybe you have so much to say that you can’t fit it in the 1-3 minutes allotted. Maybe you’re not comfortable yet speaking at a meeting.
That’s perfectly alright, you have the option to email your comments to the Council/Committee.
If you email after 5PM, but before the item is announced by the Mayor/Chair, the City Clerk will read your email into the record.
More detailed instructions are on the Contact Your City Officials page or in the Agenda PDF for most city meetings.