Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Meetings at which City Council members are briefed on issues and policies – known as “B session” meetings – are typically held downtown at the Municipal Plaza Building across from City Hall. In an effort to bring City Hall to the people, however, the next B session on Wednesday, May 15, will be held at Port San Antonio in the city’s Southwest Side.
The move stems from new principles of public participation that Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7) initiated and City Council approved earlier this year. The principles are aimed at making the workings of City Council more transparent, giving residents greater accessibility to their municipal representatives, and including more public input into policy formation.
While parking is limited and can be expensive downtown, it will be free at Port San Antonio. The 2 p.m. meeting will take place in Port SA’s board room at 907 Billy Mitchell Blvd. The agenda includes a canvass of the May 4 election results, an update on the dockless vehicles pilot program, and a briefing from Port San Antonio on its operations and future developments.
The City plans on making the “on the road” meetings a regular occurrence to spread awareness about the policy-making process and engage more citizens, said Laura Elizabeth Mayes, a communications strategist for the City.
After each B session, citizens can speak during Council’s regularly scheduled Citizens To Be Heard session. That, too, will take place May 15 at Port San Antonio at 6 p.m.
From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., anyone can sign up online to speak on the day of each B session at www.SanAntonio.gov/Clerk/CitizensToBeHeard. Next Wednesday, in-person sign-up sheets will be available in the Port San Antonio board room lobby from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (typically that takes place at at the Municipal Plaza Building).
Click here for a list of frequently asked questions – and answers – about Citizens to be Heard. While residents can speak on any topic, State law prohibits Council members from responding.
“That can be awkward,” Mayes said, especially for people who ask Council direct questions and receive no response – but the more citizens know about the process and the law, the better they can navigate the system.
B sessions and A sessions, the meetings at which City Council votes, are always livestreamed here. The City will likely hire staff later this year to livestream other Council committee and public board meetings to further the goals of the new engagement principles.
Meanwhile, the City has extended the deadline for residents to take an online survey about funding priorities for next year’s budget. SA Speak Up, the City’s community input initiative, has collected in-person feedback at more than 30 events. The new City Council will vote on the proposed budget in September.
Other important City Council-related activities and meetings are coming up this and next month, including runoff elections for districts 2, 4, 6 and the mayor’s race.
- Wednesday, May 29 at 5:30 p.m. – Council members (all incumbents except Mayor Ron Nirenberg) will be sworn in during a ceremony at the Municipal Plaza Building.
- Tuesday, May 28 – Early voting in the mayoral and City Council runoffs begins. Polling stations will be open every day (except Sunday) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Tuesday, June 4.
- Saturday, June 8 – Runoff election day. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, June 19 – Inauguration Day
- 11:30 a.m. – Welcome luncheon to celebrate new City Council.
- 2 p.m. – City Council B session to canvass the runoff election vote; runoff winners will take oath of office.
- 3 p.m. – Blessing of the 2019-2021 Mayor and City Council will be held at San Fernando Cathedral. Each Council member is encouraged to invite a clergy member to attend. A reception will follow.
- 4:30 p.m. – Pre-inauguration ceremony entertainment at the Municipal Plaza Building.
- 5:30 p.m. – Inauguration ceremony begins in City Council chambers. A reception will follow.