The City Council welcomes your attendance and participation at its meetings (agendas and minutes). The council meets on the first four Mondays (Tuesday if Monday is a holiday) of each month at City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE. Comments from the public are welcome during the "Oral Communications" portion of the agenda and during public hearings.
In study sessions, city staff presents the council with detailed briefings on a variety of issues. Councilmembers discuss various topics, ask questions and give staff direction on how to proceed. On the second and fourth Mondays, the council meets for four-hour, extended study sessions. Public comment is taken during oral communications at the beginning of extended study sessions.
During its regular sessions, the council can take action in several ways. The council may adopt an ordinance or city law. Ordinances usually take effect five days after their publication in the city's official newspaper, the Seattle Times. Most ordinances become part of the city's municipal code. The council may amend or repeal an ordinance by adopting another ordinance.
The council may also pass a resolution to express policy direction or make a public statement. The council passes a motion to approve or deny a proposed action, such as the award of a bid.
The agenda also contains a consent calendar, which includes routine business items for which no special study or discussion is expected. Councilmembers may remove items from the consent calendar for discussion if they choose.
At regular sessions, you may speak to the council during the oral communications opportunities at the beginning and end of the agenda. You may also address the council during public hearings, which are held during the regular sessions.
The council does occasionally meet in executive session, which is not open to the public. By law, the council can only discuss certain items of business during executive sessions. These topics include personnel matters, property acquisition and disposition, and legal advice on matters of litigation or potential litigation.
Public comments are not taken on quasi-judicial matters, where Councilmembers act in the role of judges. These are most often land-use matters. The Council is legally required to decide the issue based solely upon information contained in the public record and obtained at special public hearings before the Council.
The public record for quasi-judicial matters is developed from testimony at earlier public hearings held before a Hearing Examiner or a city board or commission, as well as from written correspondence submitted within certain legal time frames. There are special guidelines for these public hearings and written submittals.
When you feel strongly about a public issue or a local concern, the council encourages you to share your information and thoughts. You can submit comments in writing, speak directly to the councilmembers during Oral Communications or provide testimony at a public hearing.
To speak during Oral Communications, you do not need to sign up in advance. You may speak about any subject except quasi-judicial matters (explained in "City Council Meetings"). To conserve time during Oral Communications, only three people are permitted to speak on the same side of any particular topic. If you have handouts to distribute to the council, please provide 12 copies. This will ensure that a copy of your materials is provided to appropriate staff and maintained in the City Clerk's official record of the meeting.
Councilmembers will most likely not respond directly at the meeting, but they may ask staff to research and report back on the issue. More information about public testimony is available in Section 8 of the Council Rules of Procedure Resolution 8928. Highlights include:
- The time allowed for Oral Communications shall not exceed 30 minutes, and speakers will be called in order from the sign-up sheet. If the number of speakers signed up to speak will exceed the 30-minute period, the chair is authorized to give preference to:
- persons speaking to items on that meeting's agenda or anticipated to come on the agenda within one month and/or
- persons who have not spoken to the council in the last quarter.
- Speakers will be allowed to speak for three minutes.
- A maximum of three persons are permitted to speak to each side of any one topic.
- Persons participating in council meetings are strongly encouraged to aid the council in maintaining the decorum and orderly progression of the council agenda. Shouting, using profanity or slurs against others, disruptive noise, or off-topic comments detract from the council's ability to conduct business. Where such conduct disrupts a council meeting, the presiding officer may issue a verbal warning to the speaker. If the behavior continues, the speaker may be removed from the council chamber.
If you want to speak on the specific subject being heard during a public hearing, you must make your comment during the public hearing portion of the agenda. A sign-up sheet is made available shortly before the meeting begins. You will be called to speak in the order in which you sign in. If previous speakers have already made the comments you wish to make, feel free to simply identify yourself and indicate your agreement with what has already been said.
You are also encouraged to submit your written comments on the subject to the City Clerk before the meeting so they can be included in the record and distributed to the council.
A public hearing offers a formal opportunity to provide your views to the council on the subject of the hearing. The council may then discuss the issue and will sometimes make a decision at that time. In other cases, discussion and decision making may be deferred to a future meeting.
The audience may not comment during the council's deliberations unless a councilmember specifically requests more information.