The city of Encinitas is rolling out eComment, a new online civic engagement tool for public comment on City Council agenda items. It’s the third online engagement tool the city has launched recently, along with Nextdoor and PlaceSpeak.
The newest tool, eComment, enables those that are unable to make it to a City Council meeting in person, to comment on an agenda item online. After debuting Sept. 14, the eComment feature will be implemented for all future Encinitas City Council meetings.
When the City Council meeting agenda is posted online, an eComment link is placed in the agenda under the staff report for each item. Before the Council meeting, community members can read the staff reports and supporting materials, then click on the eComment link, complete the form online and submit their comments on any or all of the agenda items.
The eComment period opens when the City Council agenda is posted and closes at noon the day of the meeting. During the eComment period, community members can click on the current Council agenda link to find the links within the online agenda.
“eComment is another tool the city is deploying to be even more inclusive in the democratic process because it provides community members an easy way to voice their opinions to City Council,” Encinitas City Manager Karen Brust said in a release. “Our hope is that the eComment system facilitates new participation in the City Council meetings with citizen input.”
Once the public comment period closes, a report of all ecomments will be provided to each Council member. Reports of ecomments will be treated like emails received after agenda posting and become part of the official record.
Per City Council direction, the initial launch of eComment will be a one-year trial. Based on results from this trial, the Council will determine whether or not to continue with the service and/or expand it to be used by Commissions.
In addition to this new tool, community members are invited to continue using Nextdoor and PlaceSpeak, which each serve unique functions for city communication.
Nextdoor, an officially recognized location-based social network, is used by the city to proactively push information out to community members. Those active on Nextdoor are then able to have discussions with each other on the city’s posts.
On PlaceSpeak, the city provides information on a topic and gathers input from verified members of the community in a variety of ways, such as discussions, polls and surveys. That community input is used to guide city and council decision making.
— Submitted press release