What happens at City Hall probably affects you more than what is done at any other level of government. "Tip" O'Neill's observation that "all politics is local" is certainly accurate. Unfortunately, few people are aware of how city government works.
The agenda for each meeting is posted at City Hall and is available for review the Friday prior to the Monday council meeting. City Council can only take action on items on the scheduled agenda. The City Council welcomes participation at Council Meetings. Members of the public may address the Council on any item of interest to the public that is scheduled on the Agenda.
The city council (also referred to as the governing body) acts as the legislative branch of city government. Matters considered by the council take the form of ordinances, resolutions, contracts and leases. Approval of items requires majority support (i.e. three out of five council members must support the request to be approved).
There is a portion of the council meeting devoted to public comment. This is an opportunity for the members of the public to address the City Council on any matter within the City Council's jurisdiction that is not listed on the Agenda. Please note that action may only be taken on items on the scheduled agenda. Anyone wishing to be placed on the Agenda for a specific topic should contact the City Manager's office and submit correspondence at least 10 days before the desired date of appearance.
A resolution differs from an ordinance in several ways. A resolution is non-legislative action, is less formal than an ordinance, and deals with matters of a special or temporary character, usually relating to a statement of policy regarding the administrative business of the city. Examples of resolutions recently before the council include, approving a final map for tracts, annexation of proposed tracts, and authorizing the City Manager to enter into an agreement.
An ordinance sets out a permanent law that continues in force until the ordinance is repealed. Two readings are required before an ordinance can be finally approved. The first reading occurs when the proposed ordinance is introduced. Staff would generally introduce the ordinance, provide background, and reason(s) for recommendation. City Council would then generally open a public hearing allowing citizens either in support or opposition to the proposed ordinance to speak. After the public discussion, council would vote on whether to approve or deny the introduction of the ordinance. At a second meeting, staff would bring the ordinance back to council for adoption.