Before using the tools below, please read our Government Guide page to learn how to target your correspondence appropriately. Some issues are most appropriately addressed through customer service or the CAC first before escalating to elected officials. You may also want to research an issue in our Frequently Asked Questions or the respective transit agency website before you fire off a complaint.
Who are my elected officials?
Not sure who your representatives are — or how to contact them? If you live in San Francisco, San Mateo County or Santa Clara County, look them up using the League of Women Voters Guide to Government tool. It will tell you who’s been elected to represent you at the local, state, and federal levels. Contacting officials for whom you are not a constituent is largely a waste of time.
See our tips to the right on how to give effective written or spoken testimony –>
How to give public testimony at a government meeting
1. Confirm the meeting location and time with the board secretary. Rarely, these meeting details can change on a few days’ notice or be canceled for lack of a quorum.
2. If the item that you wish to speak on is on the agenda, when you get to the meeting fill out a speaker card with your name and indicate what item number you wish to speak on. I’ll generally do this by writing the item number in the upper right-hand corner and circling it or writing “Item #4b” or whatever to make it really obvious.
When the board or council gets to that item they’ll call on you to give your testimony before they vote on the item (unless the chair forgets to call on the public or overlooks your card, which sometimes happens), but generally after they have received a presentation on it from staff and have started to discuss the matter.
3. If the item that you wish to speak on is not on the agenda, look for an agenda item at the beginning or end of the agenda that says something like “public comment on items not on the agenda”. That is the time when you can bring up topics not on the agenda and make an announcement, or ask the council to consider scheduling a matter for discussion at a future date.
Remember that California’s main open-government law, the Brown Act, prohibits a government body from taking action on an item that is not on the agenda and that hasn’t been posted publicly for at least 72 hours before the meeting, to allow anyone to come and testify on the matter. Some cities like San Francisco have an even more stringent requirement that the item must be posted publicly a week in advance. This is to prevent an item from being sneaked onto the agenda and acted upon without a chance for public scrutiny.
4. Many times it is possible to display photos, map or diagram projected on an overhead display from a laptop if you need it for your listeners to be able to make sense of your testimony. This needs to be arranged with the board secretary ideally at least a day or two before the meeting starts. Some cities have information on their websites about how to do this. Technical difficulties aren’t uncommon, however, so bring paper copies as a backup.