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Tips on Public Comment 

Keep the pressure on local and State elected officials!  Participate in the Richmond City Council Zoom meetings and/or write to Richmond City Council Members, and 'cc the City Clerk, City Attorney, City Manager, & Community Development Department (Planning) Director. 
The Richmond City Council usually meets on the 1st & 3rd Tuesday of each month.   The main City Council meeting usually starts around 6:30pm.  Always check the Council Meeting Agenda  as a Closed Session sometimes proceeds the main City Council meeting, and can delay the start of the main meeting.
Both the AstraZeneca and Point Molate sites can show up as Closed Session topics!  You can provide comments prior to the start of the Closed Session.  Just be prepared to submit your comments at the time noted in the meeting Agenda; that time can change from meeting to meeting.

Email your Public Comments

We highly recommend emailing your public comments to the City of Richmond City Clerk, as there is a long list of problems with the City's public participation process via Zoom meetings.  These include but are not limited to: the Mayor not being clear when members of the public should "raise their hand" to request being added to the speakers list, and for which agenda item he is prompting for public speakers, the Clerk not recognizing people signaling they want to be on the speakers list even when they "Raised their Hand", the Clerk not calling on speakers when it is their time to speak, speakers being dropped from the speakers list  without reason, speakers being disconnected from the Zoom meeting and losing their place on the list of speakers, etc.
  1. Emails MUST be received by the City Clerk by 1pm the day of the meeting.  The Clerk will then include your email in the official "packet" sent to the council members.
  2. Email "TO" line should be addressed to the City Clerk; you can include other email addresses on the "TO" list as well, but the City Clerk MUST receive the email.
  3. Email "SUBJECT" line MUST start with "PUBLIC COMMENT"
  4. If your comment is about an item in the main Council Agenda:  "Subject" should be "PUBLIC COMMENT - Agenda Item x-x"
  5. If your comment is about an item in Closed Session:
    "Subject" should be "PUBLIC COMMENT For Closed Session - Item (description)"
  6. If your comment is for the main Council "Open Forum":
    "Subject" should be "PUBLIC COMMENT - Open Forum"
  7. Your email must include your first and last name.  City of residence is optional.

Live/Verbal Comments During Zoom

Verbal comments tend to carry greater weight with some council members, however there is a long list of problems* with the City's public participation process via Zoom meetings.  So we highly recommend emailing your comments to the City Clerk by 1pm of the day of the meeting as backup, in case someone or something prevents you from speaking during the Zoom meeting.
To give live/verbal comments during the City Zoom meeting you must join the City Zoom meeting (by computer or by phone).  You can speak via whichever method you joined the meeting, however how you joined the meeting affects how you "Raise Your Hand" to get on the speakers list and how your audio is unmuted when it is time for you to speak.
How to get on the Speakers List for an Agenda Item:
  1. Before the council starts to discuss an agenda item, listen carefully for the Mayor to ask "Are there any speakers?"  This is the ONLY prompt for the public to "Raise their Hand" via Zoom; it is easy to miss it as you have only a few seconds to comply.  When you "Raise your Hand" via Zoom (see below) the City Clerk should see a popup window with your name and she apparently manually writes down the list of speakers.  Sometimes speakers get missed... 
  2. If you joined the meeting via the Zoom computer link:           then after the Mayor asks "Are there any speakers?" for the agenda item you want to comment on, click on the Zoom "Raise Your Hand" icon.  The location of this icon will depend on the version of the Zoom software on your computer.  Post- November 2020 Zoom versions have the "Raise your Hand" button at the bottom of the "REACTIONS" popup window.  Pre-November 2020 Zoom versions have the "Raise you Hand" button at the bottom of the "PARTICIPANTS" popup window. 
  3. If you joined the meeting via Telephone:                                  then after the Mayor asks "Are there any speakers?" for the agenda item you want to comment on, press *9 to "Ask to Speak" - Zoom should tell you the "meeting host will be told you want to Speak".
  4. When the Mayor ends the time period for "Raise Your Hand" (which usually is after just 15 seconds or less) the clerk will say how many speakers asked to speak.  Usually the clerk will say the names of the first five speakers she put on her list but sometimes she does not. 
How to give your verbal comment:
After the Clerk announces the number of speakers for the item, the Council will first discuss the item.  Once the council has finished their discussion, the Mayor will announce the start of Public Comment.
Speakers are allowed a maximum of 2 minutes to speak, and speakers are not allowed to cede unused time to another speaker.    If the meeting Chair thinks there are a lot of speakers (usually when more than 50 people want to speak on the same Agenda item) then the meeting Chair may reduce the time allowed per speaker.
  1. The Clerk will say the names of the speakers in order they will be called, in groups of 5. 
  2. When it is time for you to speak, the Clerk will call your name and she will unmute you.
  3. Start by confirming the Clerk can hear you.  If she does not respond, then if you joined the Zoom meeting by telephone, try pressing *6 on your telephone, then recheck if the Clerk can hear you.  If she confirms she can hear you, then proceed.
  4. State your first and last name.  City of residence is optional.  If you have lived in Richmond for many years, some council members may value your comments more.
  5. Proceed with your comments
*Zoom problems include: The Clerk not recognizing people signaling they want to be added to the speakers list even when they "Raised their Hand", the Clerk not calling on speakers when it is their time to speak, speakers being dropped from the speakers list without reason, speakers being disconnected from the Zoom meeting and losing their place on the list of speakers, etc.
This Sample Letter has topics to consider using in your comments, plus the list of email addresses you should include in your email.
These Talking Points are designed as stand-alone brief comments for either a brief email, or as suggestions for 1-2 minute verbal comments during the City Council Zoom meeting.  Speakers are given a maximum of 2 minutes to speak per item, and speakers are not allowed to cede unused time to another speaker.