The impact and importance of civic participation on a local level cannot be understated, particularly in these politically turbulent and fraught times. A person's greatest sphere of influence is their local government, yet many Phoenicians are realistically unable to take an active role in their city government due to meeting times that are incompatible with the majority of working persons' lives. As a result, Phoenix City Council meetings are for all practical purposes completely inaccessible to a large swath of residents.
Although the City of Phoenix is in technical compliance of open meeting law, the current meeting times of both the policy sessions and formal meetings have a chilling effect on public participation.
True, meeting agendas are posted online within the required times and meetings are streamed online and available shortly afterward. Accommodations are available for those with disabilities. A great many staff members work diligently every week to compile an immense amount of technical information and ensure it is accessible in both digital and physical formats.
However, compliance with the letter of the law does not equate compliance with the spirit of the law.
Ultimately the end result of mid-week, 2:30 p.m. meeting is a diminished ability for Phoenicians to take an active role in their municipal government in a timely manner. Watching a meeting online two days after it occurred simply does not equate the ability to see one's government in action in real-time, particularly since watching a recording of the meeting robs a person of the opportunity to submit a public comment card and directly address their elected officials in real time.
For this reason, I and the undersigned residents of the city request that Phoenix City Council change the meeting time of both the policy session and formal meetings. We ask that Phoenix City Council policy sessions be split into multiple meetings in a way that maximizes the potential for residents to actively participate in ongoing meetings.
Specifically, we suggest the following changes to the current Phoenix City Council meeting schedule:
- Split city council meetings into administrative and constituent-focused meetings.
- Administrative meetings would include consent agenda items, standard/routine contracts, and routine municipal business. Uncontested zoning hearings could be held during this meeting. These meetings would become what is currently the formal city council meeting and would remain scheduled for the afternoon.
- Constituent-focused meetings to be held at least twice monthly and scheduled in the evening, with the earliest start time being 6 p.m.
- One constituent-based meeting would be reserved specifically and only for contested zoning hearings.
- The other meeting(s) would have municipal business and administration items as agendized items (not as consent agenda items). These would include:
- Utility rates
- Park improvements
- Budget items
- Major infrastructure projects
- Police and Fire Departments administration
- Public transit
- Some constituent-based meeting items would be automatically subject to an evening meeting, specifically public transit, police and fire administration, and budget.
- Other items, such as park improvements or more minor infrastructure improvements, could be included based on a threshold of the number of residents and/or geographic area impacted. When that threshold is reached, the item is automatically placed on an evening agenda.
At the very least I and everyone who has signed this petition believe it is a fair starting point for serious discussion and respectfully request the city council to consider our request.
Update #51 years ago
The subcommittee will consider this WED 5/20 at 10 a.m.
Report completed by the city clerk's office https://bit.ly/2yZbvU5
It says everything's fine & lots of people participate in meetings. Given the police oversight and Uber/Lyft issues, this data is misleading.
Register online by visiting phoenix.gov 1 hour prior to the meeting. Then, click on this link & join Webex to speak: https://phoenixcitycouncil.webex.com/phoenixcitycouncil/onstage/g.php? MTID=ea5a1b518d235d80ba4f824873adc407c
Update #42 years ago
Good News - The City Council Land Use and Livability subcommittee directed city staff to assess the costs and impacts of changing meeting times. I have a meeting with the City Clerk's office at their request to go over options next week. You can read a more detailed meeting report here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RAjdGvQnG36jH1vVdZu23S7c_yOOPrRl/view?usp=sharing Please continue to sign and share this petition in the meantime.
Update #32 years ago
The Land Use and Livability Subcommittee will consider the petition at their meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 15th at 10 a.m. at City Hall. The agenda for that meeting is here: https://bit.ly/30syIY9
Update #22 years ago
Greetings, fellow supporters of accessible government! Yesterday I was unable to submit my petition during the Citizens' Comment due to a large number of people protesting the proposed drought mitigation pipe through the preserve. Citizen comments are limited to 30 minutes for reasons I am unable to discern. I will go to the next formal meeting and attempt to submit my petition again. I have also contacted the City Manager's office and asked for a meeting to discuss this petition.
Update #12 years ago
Upon some discussion with Councilmember Debra Stark - the only councilmember to answer me as of yet - I've made the following changes to the petition I'll submit on Dec. 4th.
Split city council meetings into administrative and constituent-based meetings.
Add in two evening meetings per month, with a possible start time of 6 p.m. One meeting would be for contested zoning hearings, the other municipal business and administration.