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City Council meetings explained

Post Date:04/02/2024

City Council meetings are where it all happens – from approving our annual budget and reviewing proposed projects to passing new city laws and listening to what’s on the minds of community members.

We encourage our community to participate in these meetings, but if you’ve never been, it could feel a little daunting. Here’s the first of a series of “explainers” aimed at increasing understanding of how local government works.

In person or online?
Let’s start with the basics. You can watch City Council meetings in person at City Hall (corner of Pio Pico and Carlsbad Village Drive) or remotely, either on the website or on the city’s cable channel.

  • If you come in person, don’t worry if the council chamber looks full when you arrive.
  • We often have special presentations at the beginning of meetings, and people come with their friends and families.
  • Once presentations are over, many people tend to head out, and seats open up.
  • We usually have overflow seating outside as an option too.

How to provide comments
If you don’t want to come in person, you can still provide comments relating to items listed on the agenda to the City Council.  Just email them to The clerk’s office forwards all the comments received by 2 p.m. to the City Council before the meeting.  These comments are also posted on our website if you want to see what comments have been sent by others. You can find this information where you get the agenda.

There are two main opportunities to make comments in person:

  • The first happens at the beginning of the meeting and is an opportunity for members of the public to address the City Council about topics not on the agenda.
  • Because the City Council may only discuss and take action on agenda items, topics brought up during public comment cannot be discussed.
  • This includes answering questions, which sometimes takes speakers off guard.
  • Instead, the Mayor will often refer a speaker to a staff member in attendance if there is a specific question or concern.

The public also has an opportunity to comment on each agenda item.

  • This usually happens after staff has made a presentation but before the City Council begins its discussion.

In both cases, you need to fill out a request to speak form and turn it in before that item begins.

  • People often start by introducing themselves and saying where they live, although this is not required.
  • Speakers have three minutes (the Mayor can change the amount of time, which sometimes happens when there are a lot of speakers on a particular topic).


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