New Council Begins This Week, Here’s How to Navigate Austin City Council Meetings

Austin (KXAN) — We understand this can be confusing. There are dozens of items on the agenda of every Austin City Council to keep an eye on, and the process of signing up to speak can seem daunting.

Here’s everything you need to know about attending council meetings as three new council members shake things up in their first meeting, along with Mayor Kirk Watson, who returns to his seat two decades later.

Nuts and bolts

City Council meetings are held on prearranged Thursdays starting at 10:00. The schedule of council meetings can be found here.

Meetings are held at City Hall, 301 West 2nd Street. There is paid parking, entrance from the west side of the building.

Upon entering, you will be asked to go through a metal detector. You can safely come and go from the camera’s viewing area as needed. There are public toilets at City Hall.

You can also watch all city council meetings live on ATXN Live.

Registration to speak on agenda items

Anyone can register to speak at Austin City Council meetings. There is no age limit, and you don’t have to live within Austin city limits. Speakers can be virtual or in person.

The only requirement is that you must register in advance, which you can do in two ways.

First: register online. Registration opens at 10:00 on the Monday before the meeting and closes at 12:00 on the Wednesday before the meeting. Thus personal and virtual speakers can register.

You can also register at City Hall. There are stalls inside that open around 12 noon the day before the meeting and close 45 minutes before the meeting starts. This option is only available to speakers in person.

You are not allowed to register others to speak.

Any documents you wish to submit must be emailed to [email protected] by noon the day before the meeting.

Registration to speak on issues not included in the agenda

The Council calls this “general communication”, which means that you are talking to the body about something important. No included on the council’s agenda. You must also register before the meeting for general communication.

You can register online, by phone, by email, or in person at the city clerk’s office.

Registration opens 21 days before the meeting and closes 14 days before the meeting. These speakers and their topics are listed on the board’s agenda for the public.

Only 10 speakers are registered per meeting, and you may not register more than once in every three regularly scheduled council meetings.

When are the speakers on?

Most public comments begin at 10:00 am, except for zoning issues, which are discussed at 2:00 pm.

In the past, especially when sensitive topics were on the agenda, public discussion could go on for hours and speakers might not speak until late in the morning.

The general meeting takes place at noon.

How do I know what’s on the agenda?

The city council’s agenda is posted on the council’s website here. The agenda must be posted 13 days before the meeting.

KXAN City Hall reporter Grace Reader also does a preview of the weeks of council meetings, highlighting some of the main issues. You can find them on her author page. These stories are published the morning before council meetings.

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