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Mayor Mike McGinn left office on January 1, 2014.
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City of Seattle

Five Tips for Effective Public Comment

Public policy and budget decisions affect each and every one of us and our communities. Sometimes even the best decisions can have unintended effects for different members of our community. That’s why it’s critical that people make their voices heard. Public hearings as well as letters, emails and phone calls to your elected officials are important ways to help shape these decisions.

  1. Be specific.
    Be specific about exactly what you are asking from elected officials – know the exact name of programs, funding sources, dollar amounts or percentages. Let them know exactly what you support or oppose, and your ideas for alternative solutions.
  2. Tell your story.
    Be sure to tell elected officials why this is important to you—how does it connect to you as a person or your neighborhood? How, specifically, does it impact you, your community, or someone you know?
  3. Keep it short & simple.
    Comments in public hearings are often limited to 1-2 minutes. Take time to practice and time yourself. No one wants to be cut-off before they’ve made their point. Once at the podium, a timekeeper will hold up a sign letting you know how much time you have left and when you have to stop.
  4. Arrive early.
    Plan to arrive 15-20 minutes before the committee start time to sign-up to offer your comments. The sign-up sheet is on the table right outside of Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall. Once the committee begins, individuals and groups will be asked to come to the podium to testify in the order they are listed.
    Some public hearings, such as the public hearing on the budget in Council Chambers, could have a longer wait time. Expect that it may take a while to get to your name, and plan to be available to wait up to an hour or more after the hearing begins. For these hearings of great public interest, also plan to arrive even as much as an hour ahead of the published start time to get in line to sign-up and speak.
  5. Send Letters, Email & Phone Calls.
    When unable to attend public hearings, you may also schedule a meeting with your elected officials or make phone calls and emails to your elected officials are another option.

Posted by: Nathaniel Merrill

Comments

Comment from Laura
Time September 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I am happy to see that Walk,Ride,Transit is still supported in the Mayor’s budget. Please keep this support. My family heavily uses bikes and walking and we would like more improvements in the Interbay, Nickerson area.

Comment from John boyd
Time September 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm

RECALL

Comment from Robert Ciak
Time October 19, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Mr. McGinn,

This is a continuation of my previous email directly to you( regarding parking rate hikes). On top of my other comments, you are obviously insensitive to the needs of downtown businesses. I opposed your election as Mayor from the very start. Now I can see that you are even more extreme than I thought. I pray that the city council fights you every inch of the way. I am a registered democrat but would gladly vote for a republican just to get you out of office. Maybe they would listen to reason.

Comment from cz
Time October 25, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Thank You for posting “Five Tips for Effective Public Comment”. I support you and I am glad you give others their opportunity to voice their opinions in hopes that we might have a viable discussion that will lead us all into a better city from which has passed. Change is hard for a lot of people, I own a car but I will not drive downtown I take the bus. Downtown is a nightmare with all those cars that inpact a bus carrying 30% more people and I have to wait for that one car circling around trying to find a parking spot. That is why more people do not come downtown because of those solo drivers trying to park their car at the cheapest location available.

Comment from Stephanie Shelton
Time October 25, 2010 at 8:53 pm

I believe there is strong support for funding improvements to non-automotive transit – many people want to bike/walk/bus but don’t have the option. Let’s make these options a possibility for more families. My son is in high school and has chosen biking to school over getting his drivers license. I am proud of him, but also fearful that he has to bike on roads that do are not safe for cyclists or pedestrians. We’ve been funding roads for decades at huge cost, now let’s support safe modes of transit for all users!

Comment from Nick Beard
Time October 26, 2010 at 4:45 am

The Commercial Parking Tax is a scandal that further demonstrates how out of touch with reality the City Council may be. It’s simple: raise taxes, kill jobs. The tax takes money out of people’s pockets – so the cleaner will lose her job, or the downtown business will let people go, or cancel hiring plans. All for bike paths and “pedestrian projects.” Shame on you for even considering it.

Comment from Dante Driver
Time October 26, 2010 at 9:12 am

I am a CPA at a firm that serves privately held (small) businesses and their owners. Seattle isn’t very business friendly to begin with–particularly to our manufacturing clients, who tend to pay family wages and plenty of taxes.

Over the years, I have seen many clients leave Seattle for “greener pastures” and take their family wage jobs and tax payments with them. The Mayor’s parking and traffic proposals will only make this worse.

We are a port city. Our port it the source of a lot of jobs and tax revenues. By making it more difficult to move freight to and from port facilities, the Mayor’s proposals will hurt the city economically over the long term.

Comment from H b
Time November 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm

While I support the use of alternate means of transportation, I think it is time to find a different way of funding them. At this time, the bicyclist has no responsibility in financing any of the measures that are being put in place. I believe , as a cylist myself, that if there is a registration fee or license fee for bicycles, that is used for improvements, the auto drving public would be more supportive of the changes to the roads.
Also some sort of enforcement of the laws that apply to us bicyclists would be appreciated. I have been run into and verbally abused by those that dont feel it is necessary to abide by the rules, such as stopping at signs and lights. We could do much to ease the pain if everyone knows that the other guy is doing what they are legally required to do.

Comment from William Damon
Time November 8, 2010 at 11:00 am

I support Mayor McGinn and his Walk Bike Ride program. It is a positive forward thinking agenda, one that i hope the city council gets behind. Generally, a parking tax increase will only raise the cost of street side parking to something closer to the competitive market rate charged by private parking lots operated throughout the city. The proposed increase is not a money grab, it is a move away from the ongoing government subsidy and support for unhealthy car use. Having car owners pay something close to the actual cost of their habit will incentive alternative modes of transportation that are healthier for our city, community, and planet.

Comment from John
Time December 3, 2010 at 9:10 am

I am against Mayor McGinn and his Walk Bike Ride program. It is a negative thinking agenda, one that I hope the City Council will reject. Generally, a parking tax increase will drive out those who patronize downtown businesses by not offering an alternative to high priced private parking lots. These customers will flock to the suburbs, where parking while shopping is FREE. The proposed increase is a MONEY GRAB, to help fund bicycle lane striping only a tiny minority of the population in Seattle will ever use. It does not go towards developing real rapid transit in the city, something which both Vancouver BC and Portland Oregon enjoy. Having bicycle owners pay for the cost of bicycle lane striping by imposing registration and licensing fees on bicyles is the way to go to pay for the wants and desires of this tiny but vocal cycling minority, that serves the needs and the good of a few, instead of meeting the needs of the many.

Comment from John
Time December 3, 2010 at 9:18 am

I am against the Walk Bike Ride program. This program serves the needs of a very tiny minority of Seattle, namely members of the Cascade Bicycle Club. The kind of money this program draws is only good for one thing: Bicycle lane striping. If you walk, know that private property owners are responsible for the construction and maintenance of sidewalks adjacent to their property. So, if you want sidewalks repaired, you have to see the owner about it. As for transit, the kind of money raised here doesn’t go anywhere close to what’s required to bring rapid transit to Seattle. We already have agencies that collect money for Sound Transit. So, that leaves the Bike component of the proposal, which is the true beneficiary of this disingenuous proposal.

I suggest a Walk and Ride policy, one that funds the repair of city owned sidewalks, and the rest going towards paying a city employee to raise funds for Light Rail extensions in to Ballard and West Seattle/Burien. Forget the bike component; bicycle registration fees should cover any lane striping these people want.

Comment from conlovo
Time December 14, 2010 at 1:57 pm

“Let’s make these options a possibility for more families. My son is in high school and has chosen biking to school over getting his drivers license. I am proud of him, but also fearful that he has to bike on roads that do are not safe for cyclists or pedestrians.”
What I can not believe!

Comment from Flor Alarcon Avendano
Time February 17, 2011 at 11:17 pm

You are the best we can expect in a Mayor. You bring new innovations to City government. You are always willing to listen, always willing to learn, always willing to lead and support the leader you brought to your cabinet and always willing to collaborate to make something greater for the benefit of all. You are to many people a truly a light and an outstanding role model in a 21st Century World. I love what is happening in the Human Services Department. We can no longer work in isolation. We must integrate and collaborate with all division within Human Services Department, City Departments, Non-for profit organizations, community leaders, foundations, families, youth, elders, people with disabilities and people of color. The generations and populations of today need a government that is willing to be creative with limited financial resources. Please review the effectiveness of many middle managers and supervisors that have been there for many, many years and no longer are effective with meeting the demands of our new demographics. There are many effective supervisor and managers, but there are many that MUST go now. The accountability starts there. Many of them are not supporting the amazing change you bring to the Seattle residents. Don’t get me wrong! There are very few manager and supervisors who are EXCELLENT and we must duplicate them.

Comment from richard -liberty fund
Time May 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm

am against Mayor McGinn and his Walk Bike Ride program. It is a negative thinking agenda, one that I hope the City Council will reject. Generally, a parking tax increase will drive out those who patronize downtown businesses by not offering an alternative to high priced private parking lots. These customers will flock to the suburbs, where parking while shopping is FREE. The proposed increase is a MONEY GRAB, to help fund bicycle lane striping only a tiny minority of the population in Seattle will ever use. It does not go towards developing real rapid transit in the city, something which both Vancouver BC and Portland Oregon enjoy. Having bicycle owners pay for the cost of bicycle lane striping by imposing registration and licensing fees on bicyles is the way to go to pay for the wants and desires of this tiny but vocal cycling minority, that serves the needs and the good of a few, instead of meeting the needs of the many.

Comment from Joe
Time May 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I’m a regular transportation cyclist and I’m agnostic about dedicated bikeways; they’re very rarely well executed.

What makes cycling on the roads work is mutual respect. Ride predictably, let cars by when its feasible, don’t break the law, and for the most part motorists will treat you well. (for the most part…)

Comment from KokoArena
Time June 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I support Mayor McGinn and
his Walk Bike Ride program.
It is a positive forward
thinking agenda, one that i
hope the city council gets
behind. Generally, a parking
tax increase will only raise
the cost of street side
parking to something closer
to the competitive market
rate charged by private
parking lots operated throughout the city. The
proposed increase is not a
money grab, it is a move
away from the ongoing
government subsidy and
support for unhealthy car
use. Having car owners pay
something close to the
actual cost of their habit will
incentive alternative modes
of transportation that are
healthier for our city, community and planet…

Comment from unizik
Time September 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Thanks a lot. I learnt a lot.

Comment from secretivecharla88.over-blog.com
Time October 13, 2013 at 11:21 am

Great post. I will be dealing with some of these issues as well..

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