Public comment rules

Signed up to speak at a Board or committee meeting? Be sure to review the rules that govern public comment in virtual spaces or in person.

Board and committee meeting public comment rules

Below are the Sound Transit Board of Directors’ rules on public comment, applicable to all who wish to provide comment to the Board or one of its committees during a meeting.

These public comment rules have been somewhat simplified for ease of reading, however the officially adopted rules for public comment, along with all other rules for the Board of Directors can be found here, in Resolution No. R2023-01.

Sound Transit public comment rules

  • Board, committee, and subcommittee actions and deliberations are conducted openly and in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act
  • Public comment at Board meetings is limited to business items or reports to the Board on the Board agenda. Public comment at committee meetings is limited to matters within the purview of the specific committee or items on the committee’s agenda. At special meetings, public comment is only taken on agenda items for final action.
  • The public comment period is an opportunity for members of the public to address the Board or committee and not a dialogue between the Board or committee and the public.
  • If you wish to comment, you must add your name and the item you wish to speak about to the public comment sign-in sheet before the meeting begins. Instructions for how to do that are found on the meeting’s calendar page.
  • The Board or committee chair determines the amount of time each individual has to provide public comment and may set an overall amount of time for public comment. To ensure equal opportunity for the public to comment, the Board or committee chair may limit the number of people speaking for or against an item.
  • Individuals providing public comment must not engage in speech or conduct that disrupts, disturbs or otherwise impedes the orderly conduct of any meeting. Individuals must obey the following:
    • Comments must be related to agenda items or matters allowed for public comment described above.
    • Comments must be made to the Board as a whole and not to any individual member except in that member’s role as a Boardmember.
    • Comments must be completed within the allowed time.
    • An individual’s comment period may not be used for purposeful delay, including remaining silent or engaging in other activity without stating a clear message.
    • Comments for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition are not allowed.
    • Commenters must not engage in abusive or harassing behavior including derogatory remarks, profanity or personal attacks, or the use of obscene language and gestures, assaults or threatening behavior, sexual misconduct or sexual harassment.
  • An individual who fails to comply with these rules for public comment may be called out of order by the Board or committee chair, and the chair may direct the speaker’s microphone be turned off to end the individual’s comment period. The Board or committee chair may also direct security personnel to assist that individual to the individual’s seat.
  • Meeting disruptions by non-speakers are prohibited. Disruptions include, but are not limited to:
    • Outbursts from members of the public who are not giving public comment.
    • Standing in the center aisle or front row of the audience, unless speaking as recognized by the Board or committee chair or waiting to speak during the public comment period.
    • Holding or placing a banner or sign in the meeting room in a way that endangers others or obstructs others’ view of of the meeting.
    • Behavior that intentionally disrupts, disturbs or otherwise impedes attendance or participation at a meeting.
    • Failure to follow the direction of a chair, vice chair or security personnel.
  • If an individual is disrupting the meeting, the Board or committee chair may direct security officers to remove the individual from the meeting room.
  • If an individual is in violation of the public comment or disrupts a meeting at two or more meetings within a 28-day period or two or more consecutive meetings of the Board or a committee, chair may not allow them to participate in public comment periods at future meetings.
  • The Board chair, or committee chair in consultation with the Board chair, determines the length of the exclusion from public comment based on the seriousness of the disruption, the number of disruptions and the individual’s prior record of conduct at meetings:
    • After an individual’s first violation or disruption, the length of the exclusion will not exceed 90 days. 
    • After an individual’s second violation or disruption within a six-month timeframe, the length of the exclusion will not exceed 180 days. 
    • After an individual’s third violation or disruption within an eighteen-month timeframe, the length of the exclusion will not exceed one year.
  • The Board administrator will notify an individual in writing of the specific reasons and length that they cannot comment by mailing the notice to the individual’s last known address, if any. The Board administrator will post the notice outside the meeting location and on Sound Transit’s website and will send a copy of the notice to Board members. The notice is effective when posted. The notice remains posted for the duration of the that period.
  • The Board or committee chair’s decision to exclude an individual from public comment may be overruled by a majority vote of those Board members in attendance either at the meeting where the exclusion was announced or at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting following the exclusion.