Public Notice: Effective April 20, 2020. Pursuant to Section 111.30 of Columbus City Code, City Council unanimously approved a motion to temporarily suspend the rules for speaking before City Council outlined within Sec. 111.12 of the City Code during the period of time that they are conducting meetings electronically due to the COVID-19 Stay at Home order.
Testifying at the City Council Meeting
Until further notice, Columbus City Council meetings will be held in a teleconference format, with members attending via WebEx. While the standard protocols and practices for considering legislation will be followed, interested parties seeking to testify at the meeting are advised as follows:
- Any residents seeking to submit testimony in favor of or in opposition to an ordinance are strongly advised to submit their testimony in writing to the City Clerk. Written testimony must be received by 3:00 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Testimony should be emailed to email@example.com.
- Testimony can also be mailed to Columbus City Council, Attn: City Clerk Speaker testimony, 90 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43215. Please include contact information (email preferably) and the ordinance/resolution number that you wish to address.
- All parties wishing to speak during Council meeting via WebEx must submit an online speaker slip form available on the Council website at: www.columbus.gov/council/information/Online-Speaker-Slip/ no later than 3:00 pm on the day of the Council meeting to request attendance at the meeting. The Clerk will provide the WebEx meeting information allowing those parties to attend the meeting electronically. Those submitting testimony must join the WebEx meeting no later than 5:00 pm on the day of the Council meeting.
- In accordance with public meeting access provisions, residents may still attend the meeting in person at City Hall and submit speaker slips to testify which must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. for the regular meeting and 6:30 p.m. for the Zoning meeting. However, in consideration of the State of Ohio’s stay-at-home policy and social distancing guidelines, Columbus City Council urges residents to submit their testimony in writing or via WebEx rather than attend the meeting in person. The protocols of the social distancing guidelines will be duly enforced within Council Chambers prohibiting overcrowding, and thus the capacity in Chambers will be correspondingly reduced.
Sworn Testimony at the Zoning Committee Meeting of City Council
Any party that is presenting testimony to Columbus City Council on a Council Variance is required to be sworn in prior to giving testimony. In order to accommodate this, parties will be required to attend the meeting, preferably via WebEx.
All parties planning to present testimony on a Zoning Committee ordinance must email the City Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 3:00 pm on the day of the zoning meeting to request attendance at the meeting. The Clerk will provide the WebEx meeting information allowing those parties to attend the meeting electronically, and those submitting testimony must join the WebEx meeting no later than 6:30 pm on the day of the zoning meeting. The Zoning Chair will swear in all parties signed up to testify on a Council Variance just prior to the reading of that piece of legislation.
Please note, parties attending the meeting via WebEx and that have presentations on Zoning Committee ordinances can provide those presentations using the WebEx platform. However, when emailing the Clerk to request attendance at the meeting, please attach any presentation that will be provided to Councilmembers.
Other Ways to contact City Council Members
In lieu of submitting speaker testimony at/for the Council meeting, interested parties are also encouraged to reach out to Councilmember offices by phone in advance of council meetings to share concerns or support. Contact information for individual Councilmember offices can be found at columbus.gov/council/Contact-City-Council/.
Unless otherwise noted on the schedule, Columbus City Council meets each Monday beginning at 5:00 p.m. Zoning meetings begin at 6:30pm. Hard copies of the agendas are available in the Office of the City Clerk generally by 3:00pm and on the City Council website generally by 4:00pm on the Thursday prior to a Monday City Council meeting.
The following rules shall apply to the general public when they wish to speak before Council at a scheduled Council meeting:
- Speakers slips must be filled out completely including name, address, organization represented, the ordinance number of the item to be addressed, if the individual will be speaking for or against the item, the subject if non-agenda and with any material or information to be distributed and filed with the city clerk prior to 5:00 p.m. on the day the speaker wishes to speak before the council. The council encourages individuals to submit written testimony and/or contact the appropriate committee chairperson to discuss their concerns. The council will not entertain incomplete speaker slips. Speakers slips addressing rezoning or variance requests must be submitted prior to 6:30 p.m. on the day the speaker wishes to speak before the council.
- For regular business meetings, individuals are permitted to submit a total of two (2) speakers slips. Of the two (2) slips, one may be used to address a non-agenda matter.
a) For agenda items, speakers must only speak to the ordinance indicated on the speaker slip submitted to the clerk. Council will entertain three (3) speakers for and three (3) speakers against any ordinance, recognizing speakers in the order the slips are received by the clerk. Each speaker will be given three (3) minutes to speak.
b) For non-agenda items there will be a limit of six (6) speakers taken in order of receipt of speaker slips with no more than three (3) speakers on any subject. Each speaker will be given three (3) minutes to speak. If the subject does not concern the legislative or administrative responsibilities of city government, the president of council may refer the speaker to another public forum and/or deny the request.
- For zoning meetings, speakers will be limited to three (3) three-minute speakers by the proponents, and three (3) three-minute speakers for the opponents for each ordinance.
- Speakers' subject matter will not contain obscenity, defamation or slander nor shall speakers conduct themselves in violation of the disorderly conduct or disturbing a lawful meeting provisions of Chapter 2317 of the Columbus City Codes, 1959. If the council president determines that these rules are not being followed one warning will be given. Speaker's conduct shall be subject to the right of the council president to preserve the order and decorum of the forum. If the rules continue to be violated after one warning, the council president may revoke the individual's speaking privileges.
- Speaker slips shall be presented to the president of council by the city clerk in the order received.
- Any variance or waiver of these rules shall be by a majority vote of council.
It is the policy of Columbus City Council that speaker slips must be delivered personally by the individual wishing to speak on the day of the meeting prior to 5:00 p.m. (6:30 p.m. for zoning items). Council staff members are not permitted to complete speaker slips for members of the public wishing to speak.
***NOTE: Speakers addressing City Council regarding legislation must direct their comments solely to the subject matter addressed in the legislation indicated on the speaker slip. Failure to do so will result in a warning from the Council President to return to the subject matter of the legislation. At the President’s discretion, a speaker may be excused from the podium or chambers for failure to comply with the President's warning or for repeated noncompliance with this requirement.***
Signs and banners are not permitted in Council Chambers. This prohibition does not apply to charts, diagrams, enlarged photographs or other demonstrative exhibits or visual media utilized by a speaker in presenting testimony to Council, subject to the provisions of Section 111.12, set forth above.