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Culver City
Saturday, October 24, 2020

How to Participate in City Meetings During a Pandemic

by Jeff Schwartz

The coronavirus has forced Culver City to hold all its public meetings online, which has forced us to navigate new electronic commenting systems. There are now three ways to submit a public comment. I recommend that you use all three to increase your chances to be heard.

First, submit your comment using the eComment feature on the City website before 4 p.m. on the day of the meeting:

1) Go to the calendar page on the City website: 2) Click “eComment” at the far right of the line for your meeting. 3) Click “Comment” next to your item on the agenda. 4) Use the “Sign Up” or “Sign In” links at the upper right to create an account or log in to your account. 5) Type your comment in the box. You have a 4000 character limit for the entire meeting, so plan ahead if you want to comment on multiple items. Also, each comment will be limited to two or three minutes, and 4000 characters can take longer than that to read, so time reading your comment aloud to be sure it can fit. 6) Click “Submit Comment”

Second, for backup and to submit longer comments, material with illustrations, charts, graphs, and tables, footnotes, etc, email: goran.eriksson@culvercity.org, alex.fisch@culvercity.org, daniel.lee@culvercity.org, meghan.sahli-wells@culvercity.org, thomas.small@culvercity.org, city.council@culvercity.org, public.comment@culvercity.org, and city.clerk@culvercity.org. Emailed comments will sometimes be read aloud at meetings. When there are many, the Mayor will give them one minute each, so put your main points in the beginning. Email is also useful if you won’t be able to be online during the meeting or if you might not be able to stay up late enough for your item (the June 22 meeting went until almost 3 a.m.).

Finally, to read your comment live during the meeting: 1) Go to the “Public Meetings” page under “Commissions, Committees, and Boards” on the City website 2) Click your meeting under “Register to Attend” on the right. 3) On the next screen register for the meeting. 4) Join the meeting using the link emailed to you. The City uses Cisco WebEx, which is pretty similar to Zoom, BlueJeans, and Google Meet. Almost all the same functions are in the same places, so if you have trouble try to find a friend who knows one of those platforms. 5) Post in the chat that you want to speak, and which item you are interested in. 6) When your item comes up, go to the “Participants” window, find your name, and use the “Raise Hand” option. 7) Speak when the City Clerk calls on you. You will have two or three minutes, which the Mayor will set at the beginning of the discussion. It is good to write your statement in advance and time yourself reading it. If you or your family are watching the meeting on multiple devices, turn off the sound on all of them except for the one you are using, otherwise there will be psychedelic regenerating echoes.

The City has not been perfectly consistent in managing online public participation. Their understanding and application of the technology is developing, and sometimes the machines do not cooperate. I hope these instructions will make it a little easier for you to participate in public meetings as we and our representatives address major issues in the months ahead.

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