At its April 28 meeting, the Santa Monica City Council voted to adopt a resolution to temporarily amend its Rule of Order and Procedure 15 regarding public comment to reflect new procedures under which members of the public will be able to call into teleconference meetings to provide oral comment. The May 5 City Council meeting will be the first with the new procedures and the new rule.
Here’s how it will work:
- Members of the public who wish to comment on an item on the agenda can call in before or during the meeting prior to that item being heard.
- A teleconference service provider will create a queue of those wishing to provide oral public comment for each item.
- The queue will be closed immediately prior to the beginning of public comment, and the teleconference service provider will then draw people off the queue, opening a line to permit them to provide public comment.
In March, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-29-20, which allows the City Council to hold meetings via teleconference while social distancing requirements are in place. Under this order and to abide by physical distancing orders, Santa Monica Council meetings have been conducted by teleconference. Until now, public comment on agenda items at the teleconference meetings has been received in writing for distribution online up to 12 p.m. on the date of the meeting, and during the meeting to be read into the record at the appropriate time during the meeting. The new procedures outlined above will now allow oral public comment during teleconference meetings, eliminating the need for written comments to be read into the record.
The amended rule reflects the new procedures:
- It extends the time to submit written public comments to firstname.lastname@example.org until 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting; comments received by that time will be available for viewing online with the corresponding agenda item.
- It retains a two-minute time limit for oral public comment on any particular agenda item so long as the queue for public comment on that item does not reach 100 or more.
- If the queue for public comment on any particular agenda item reaches 100 or more, with a majority vote of Council members present, the time limit for remarks by individual speakers may be reduced to one minute and/or an aggregate three-hour time limit may be imposed for all remarks by the public on that particular agenda item.
- There is no ability to donate time to other speakers because this cannot be implemented using the available teleconference procedures.
- There is no ability to use electronic presentation materials during oral public comment because this cannot be implemented using the available teleconference procedures.
All letters, emails and faxes regarding City Council agenda items are available for public viewing online. Written comments are not redacted, and email addresses, physical addresses, and telephone numbers appear online as they are submitted. To provide oral public comment under the new procedures, a link will be provided when the agenda is posted at www.smgov.net/council.