Like so much else during the pandemic, City Council meetings have gone virtual, changing how to participate and provide public comment to your elected officials. The city is using a variety of technology to help you stay involved in the discussions and decisions, so follow this outline to know when and how to participate.
Start by using LakewoodSpeaks.org, which allows you to review the agenda items for each meeting, watch presentations and submit written comments for each council member to review before the meeting. Presentations for a specific agenda item are prerecorded and available on the website 10 days before each meeting so you can watch them when it’s convenient for you. Staff reports, maps and other documents related to an agenda item are also available at the same time, which gives you time to review the details of the topic. Written public comment is taken on the website until noon on the day of the meeting.
There are several opportunities to provide the specific kind of public comment you want to contribute during the meetings.
- At the top of the meeting: This is the first public comment segment during regular meetings and typically occurs following the Pledge of Allegiance. This is the time to provide your thoughts and comments on topics that don’t relate to anything on that night’s agenda. Are you concerned about a park or think City Council should tackle a specific issue? This first segment is when you should provide these kinds of comments.
- Consent agenda: You can provide comments on resolutions council is considering that night during this segment. Resolutions are used to authorize items such as contracts, fees, policies and procedures, certain payments and specific actions. Resolutions appear only once on the agenda, so this is the time to provide your comments on the specific resolution you are interested in.
- Public hearings: When City Council is considering a new ordinance, a public hearing will occur to take public testimony when the ordinance appears on the agenda for the second time. Ordinances are used for such items as creating new city laws, amending existing city laws, rezoning property or authorizing the city’s budget. If you want to comment on a specific ordinance, the time to do that is during its public hearing.
- Study session: These are just what the name says. City Council studies an issue through in-depth presentations and discussions. One segment of public input occurs during these sessions that provides you the opportunity to comment on the issue being studied.
If you prefer to speak to City Council during the meetings rather than submit written comments, several steps are involved to speak during the council’s current virtual meetings.
1. Check the council agenda for each meeting at Lakewood.org/CouncilMeetings. The agenda is published on Mondays with the phone number you need to dial and the webinar ID you need to enter to provide your comments during the appropriate public comment segment (see above).
- The phone number and the webinar ID are also shown on the screen during the live broadcast of the meeting and announced several times during the meeting.
2. Dial the phone number, then press the # sign on your dial pad (typically lower right corner) to enter the webinar ID (for example, 987 6543 2100). Then press the # sign again to join the meeting.
3. Press * on your dial pad (typically in the lower left corner) followed by 9 to request to speak. This essentially “raises your hand” to speak.
4. Listen for when the last four digits of your phone number are called during the meeting. When you hear your number, press * followed by 6 to unmute your phone so that you can speak during the meeting.
- If you are watching the meeting on your computer or TV, mute the sound on that device to prevent it from interfering with your speaking and being heard on the phone.
5. Hang up when you are finished or stay on hold to speak during another public comment segment.
You can watch council meetings in any of the follow locations.