Asheville City Council continues remote meetings with new public comment procedure

City Council meeting modified graphic

 

 

Due to the State and locally declared States of Emergency, there will be no public attendance at City Council meetings. 

 

While we are Staying Safer at Home, City Council still wants you to have the opportunity to participate in the decisions of your government. There are three options for providing public comment. Please note there is a new procedure for providing public comment for this meeting.

 

The agenda for Council’s July 28 meeting is posted at this link. The agenda includes a public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2020-21 Annual Operating Budget. Council intends to recess the meeting at the close of the agenda and reconvene at 5 p.m. July 30 to conclude votes on the public hearing items. 


Pre-meeting public comment

Voicemail comments All voicemail public comments must be received by 5 p.m. July 27 by calling the City’s Toll-Free Public Input Line at 855-925-2801, meeting code: 9705. Before commenting, please state your name, City of residence, and the item you are commenting on (Examples: Consent Agenda Item A, Public Hearing Item B, Open Public Comment).

Comments will be limited to three minutes per person per item. All comments must conform to City Council rules of decorum, which are found below. Those comments that do not may be excluded. City Council will receive the transcribed voicemail comments and the comments will be posted, but they will not be heard during the Council meeting.

Written comments Comments can also be submitted by emailing: AshevilleCityCouncilJuly282020@publicinput.com. For public hearing items, emails will be accepted for up to 24 hours after the close of each public hearing. City Council will receive the emailed comments electronically and the comments will be posted, but they will not be read during the Council meeting.

 

Live public comment during meeting

Live caller queue Because the upcoming City Council meeting will be a remote participation meeting, and to allow staff time to assist community members in preparing for such a meeting format, persons wishing to speak during the meeting must sign up in advance using the online form below (ashevillenc.gov/comments) or call the Clerk’s office at 828-259-5900, no later than noon July 27, to add their names to the list of speakers. The web form will appear on this page at noon July 24.  

In order to be added to the list of speakers, an individual must provide his/her name, area of residence, phone number the caller will use to listen to the meeting live and join the speaker queue, the item the individual is commenting on (Examples:  Consent Agenda C, Public Hearing A, Open Public Comment), and an alternative form of contact (for example: text number, email address or a different phone line if a land line will be used to call into the meeting). 

City staff will use the “phone number the caller will use to listen to the meeting live and join the speaker queue” to manage the speaker queue. 

The “alternative form of contact” in the sign-up form will be used to provide technical assistance during the meeting if needed. 

Each speaker will need to listen to the meeting through the live phone application by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code: 9705. Callers who have signed up to speak should press “*” and then “3” to join the speaker queue during the meeting. 

Each speaker is allotted 3 minutes to speak for up to one hour for each agenda item (except the budget public hearing). The Mayor or presiding officer may, at his/her discretion, increase or decrease this time allocation depending on the number of speakers. 

A speaker may speak only if they have signed up to speak in accordance with these procedures. All speaker names will be displayed when speaking.  

In order for speakers to know where they fall in the caller queue, the speaker list (name only) will be posted to the City of Asheville Public Engagement Hub at publicinput.com/9705 by noon the day of the meeting.

The Clerk will deliver the list of those persons who signed up to speak to the Mayor or presiding officer before the beginning of the meeting. The speakers will be called upon in the order the requests were received by the Clerk.

 

How to follow the live meeting

  • Call toll-free to listen to the meeting on your phone: 855-925-2801, meeting code: 9705. Your phone will be muted but you will be able to hear what is happening in the meeting.
  • Watch the live stream through the City of Asheville Public Engagement Hub at publicinput.com/9705.
  • In addition to the stream on the Virtual Engagement Hub, a live stream of the meeting is also available on the City’s YouTube Channel at  youtube.com/cityofasheville. Watch on Charter Cable channel 193 and on AT&T U-Verse channel 99.

Rules of Decorum  

  • Speakers are only allowed to speak one time during the public comment period for an agenda item.
  • A person may speak only if they have signed up to speak in accordance with the City’s procedures. Speaker substitutions at the meeting are not allowed.
  • Each speaker is allotted three minutes to speak on an agenda item. In general, each agenda item will have up to a total of one hour for public comment. The Mayor, or presiding officer may, in their discretion, increase or decrease this time allocation depending on the number of speakers. Public comment for the budget public hearing will be extended until all those who have signed up to speak have been heard. 
  • A speaker may not share or relinquish any remaining time they have not used to another speaker.
  • Speakers shall refrain from personal attacks and/or threats directed towards City Council, City staff or members of the public.
  • Speakers shall be civil and courteous in their language. Insults, profanity, use of vulgar language or gestures, or other inappropriate behavior are not allowed.
  • Comments, questions, or jeering from the audience are not allowed. Speakers shall likewise not address or respond to members of the audience.
  • Speakers should not expect Council members or City staff to comment on or respond to their comments directly during the meeting. The Mayor, or presiding officer may, however, request the City Manager’s office to follow up with a speaker after the meeting or provide additional information to the Council at a later date.
  • The Mayor or presiding officer has the authority to enforce the Rules of Decorum.  Failure to obey these Rules may result in forfeiture of the remaining speaking time.  Individuals who engage in egregious or repeated violations may be asked to leave the meeting. Speakers and members of the audience should also note the following Asheville City Code provision and


    North Carolina General Statutes

  • City Council Rules of Procedure Rule 7(e): Persons addressing the Council are expected to observe the decorum of the Chamber, to be respectful of the Council and the public, to refrain from use of profanity or foul language, to refrain from person attacks and commentary on candidates for political office, and to refrain from making disclosures by the Personnel Privacy Act with respect to any City employee.
  • N.C. Gen. Stat. sec. 143-318.17 – Disruptions of official meetings: A person who willfully interrupts, disturbs, or disrupts an official meeting and who, upon being directed to leave the meeting by the presiding officer, willfully refuses to leave the meeting is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
  • N.C. Gen. Stat. sec. 160A-81.1 – Public Comment Period during Regular Meetings: The council shall provide at least one period for public comment per month at a regular meeting of the council. The council may adopt reasonable rules governing the conduct of the public comment period, including, but not limited to, rules (1) fixing the maximum time allotted to each speaker, (ii) providing for the designation of spokesmen for groups of persons supporting or opposing the same positions, (iii) providing for the selection of delegates from groups of persons supporting or opposing the same positions when the number of persons wishing to attend the hearing exceeds the capacity of the hall, and (iv) providing for the maintenance of order and decorum in the conduct of the hearing. The council is not required to provide a public comment period under this section if no regular meeting is held during the month.

July 28 City Council Meeting Agenda

Form for advanced public comment sign-up

 

These remote format City Council meetings are a temporary measure for the health and safety of everyone, as we collectively work through social distancing techniques to prevent the spread of COVID-19, taking into consideration guidance from the CDC, N.C. Department of Health and Human Service and Buncombe County Health and Human Services.

The top priorities are  the safety of our community and to slow the spread of COVID-19.

We continue to coordinate City response with Buncombe County and State officials. These actions are all designed with public health in mind, as we pull together to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.