Thursday, January 12, 2017
Time for Citizen Comments at the Start of SF Supes' Meetings
Gazing into my 2017 crystal ball, I see many meetings of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors every Tuesday, and lots of citizens anxious to speak.
Since there is no fixed time for citizen comments, forcing taxpayers to wait around for hours to petition our government representatives, I see working folks disrespected.
They don't know if they'll speak at 3 pm or 6 pm or whenever. This needs to change.
Casting my eye to the East Bay, there's a better way of handling time for the Supervisors to hear from we, the people.
Berkeley's City Council takes public comment at the start of the meeting for fifteen minutes and everyone not able to address the council at that time is given an opportunity for general comments at the end and on each agenda item. Public comments are always third on the agenda.
The full text of their rules are below.
For the Oakland City Council, the time is called Open Forum/Citizen Comments and it's third on the agenda and for fifteen minutes. I love how they use the term citizen instead of public, too. On top of that, you can also sign up online to speak at a meeting in Oakland!
How respectful and civilized of the electeds in these two East Bay cities. Folks know when to show up to speak. They don't have to spend hours listening to the pols blather on.
In San Francisco, the supervisors don't allow public comment at fixed agenda item and never at a fixed time. It always comes after making Roll Call Introductions, stood around handing out proclamations to constituents and generally campaign for the cameras and future votes.
A plea to every potential speaker at a Board of Supervisors meeting: Start demanding the members follow the example of Oakland and Berkeley and give us citizens time to speak at the start of every Tuesday meeting.
Public Comment on Non-Agenda Matters: Persons will be selected by lottery to address matters not on the Council agenda. If five or fewer persons submit speaker cards for the lottery, each person selected will be allotted two minutes each. If more than five persons submit speaker cards for the lottery, up to ten persons will be selected to address matters not on the Council agenda and each person selected will be allotted one minute each. Persons wishing to address the Council on matters not on the Council agenda during the initial ten-minute period for such comment, must submit a speaker card to the City Clerk in person at the meeting location and prior to commencement of that meeting. The remainder of the speakers wishing to address the Council on non-agenda items will be heard at the end of the agenda. Speaker cards are not required for this second round of public comment on non-agenda matters.