Public Comments at City Council Meetings
Public comments are welcomed at each Wednesday’s City Council meeting. Meetings in the Auditorium resumed on March 9, 2022. Public comments may be made in person by attending the City Council meeting in the Auditorium. Public comments may also be provided over Zoom.
How to Comment:
- To comment in person, attend the City Council meeting and approach the podium when the opportunity for public comments is announced. Advance registration is not needed.
- To comment over Zoom, register no later than 5 PM on the day of the meeting if you wish to appear on Zoom to make your comment. The meeting registration link can be found on the City Council Meeting Agendas page.
- Your comment should be limited to three (3) minutes or less. If you have more information than you can convey in three minutes, please supplement your comments with a written statement.
- You may submit comments in writing by email in addition to, or instead of, commenting live on Zoom . Send written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Requests to share video or slides during comments:
- If you wish to share slides or video during your three (3) minute comment, you must contact the City Clerk at least 24 hours before the meeting to make arrangements. Plan to send the digital file to the Clerk by noon on the day of the meeting. Staff will show the material during your comments.
- When you register on Zoom for the meeting, you will receive an email with information on how to join the meeting.
- City Council meetings are set up as “webinars” so that people viewing the meeting or expecting to comment can only view the meeting until it is time for public comments. At that point, anyone who registered to comment will be brought into the meeting and allowed to turn on their video and audio when called upon.
- You are not required to turn on your video but may do so if you wish.
- In order to ensure you have the best viewer experience, residents attending the City Council meetings on Zoom should pin the video/box “auditorium.” To do so, please follow these steps:1. At the top of your zoom meeting window, hover over the video or box that reads “auditorium”.2. Click on the three dots on the top right-hand corner of that box “auditorium” and select pin. This will enable you to view the dais where the council members and the mayor will be speaking.3. If you choose to do so, you can unpin the box “auditorium” by hovering over and clicking the three dots again and selecting unpin. This will default you to the “presentation” box, where you can see the PowerPoint slides being presented.
Questions? Need more information? Contact Jessie Carpenter at 301-891-7267 or email email@example.com.
Review the complete City Council Meeting Rules and Procedures:
Detailed Information on Public Comments (from the City Council Meeting Rules and Procedures adopted January 19, 2022):
2.16 Public Comments. The public is invited to comment at each regular weekly meeting of the Council. Advance sign-up is not required unless noted otherwise in the meeting agenda. (Note that while the Council is meeting on Zoom, advance sign up is required as shown above.)
2.16.1 Public Comments—Procedure.
i. When the time for public comment is announced, speakers who wish to address the Council should come to the podium and state their name and ward for the record. For speakers who are unable to stand at the podium, they will be recognized by the Mayor and provided a microphone to speak. In addition, hearing assistance devices will be available upon request.
ii. Comments are limited to three minutes each. Speakers may not cede their time to others.
iii. To ensure that everyone who wants to comment has the time to do so, members of the public are expected to only speak once during general public comments. However, a speaker representing a committee or an organization may speak twice in order to present their personal comment if different from the position of the committee or organization.
iv. Those present at Council meetings shall respectfully permit speakers to express their opinions without interruption.
v. When a speaker asks questions or raises a topic during public comments, to the extent possible, acknowledgment or responses will be provided later in the meeting, after the meeting in writing, or at a future meeting in City Manager Comments.
vi. Public comment made in support of or opposition to an agenda item set for public hearing will be heard at the time set for the hearing.
2.16.2 Use of Visual or Audiovisual Materials. Requests to show visual or audiovisual materials during public comments or hearings must be submitted to the City Clerk at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance. If the request is approved, the digital file or link to the file must be emailed to the City Clerk (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than noon the day of the meeting or hearing. Those wishing to use visual or audiovisual materials will not be permitted to utilize flash drives (thumb drives) at any meeting of the Council. The intent of this section is to safeguard the City’s information technology systems. Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing a speaker from utilizing a visual aide while speaking, i.e., chart, placard, or something similar.
2.16.3 Written or Audio Testimony. Written comments and testimony are always welcome, either in lieu of or in addition to spoken testimony. Any written materials should be submitted to the City Clerk (preferably in electronic form), prior to the start of the relevant Council meeting. Written testimony will be copied to the Council and included in the official record of the meeting or hearing.
2.16.4 Public Hearings. The City Council may hold scheduled formal public hearings during its regularly scheduled meetings or at another time in order to accept testimony on an issue.
i. In certain circumstances, formal public hearings may be required by federal or State law, the City Charter, or the City Code.
ii. A public hearing is more structured than other public comment periods. Speakers are asked to sign up at the beginning of the meeting. When a large number of people are expected to address the Council on an issue, speakers may be asked to sign up in advance of the meeting.
iii. When the speaker’s name is called, the speaker should come to the podium and state their name and ward for the record.
iv. Comments are limited to three minutes each. Speakers may not cede their time to others. To ensure that everyone who wants to comment has the time to do so, members of the public are expected to only speak once during a public hearing. However, a speaker representing a committee or an organization may speak twice in order to present their personal comment if different from the position of the committee.
v. All those present at public hearings shall respectfully permit speakers to express their opinions without interruption.
2.16.5 Public Comment at Special Meetings. Meetings outside of Regular Meetings of the Council, for example, Budget Work Sessions or Work Sessions on special topics, may not have time allotted for public comments, or in some instances, may require sign up ahead of time.