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Zoom Bombing Q&A

The City of Sebastopol is struggling with the best way to address a seriously disruptive zoom bombing situation. Below is a Q&A List intended to answer questions presented to me on this topic. For the staff report on the topic, click here. For a Sebastopol Times article covering the item, click here. The zoom bombing question is scheduled to be decided at the City Council meeting Tuesday April 16 (start time 6pm). For agenda, documents, and zoom link (ironically), click here

1. Question: Does the Mayor have the ability to set a time limit for each speaker?

Answer: Yes, the Mayor has the authority to set time limits for speakers. Currently our policy is 2 minutes per speaker, but the Mayor can adjust that for specific items. That is most likely to be the case if there are many speakers on a topic and/or limited time to cover all items on the evening’s agenda. 
2. Question: Must comments pertain to subjects within the jurisdiction of the city council? Stated another way, if the subject is not on today’s council agenda, is it eligible to be placed on a future agenda? (Or, can I take your valuable meeting time to share a recipe, travelogue, family photos, or you-name-it?)

Answer: Comments on items that are on the agenda must address the subject matter of the agenda item. There is also a period at the beginning of the meeting and at the end for “comments on items that are not on the agenda.” There is no limitation on the content of those items. A total of 10 speakers are allowed for the “comments on items that are not on the agenda” period at the beginning of the meeting and a total of 10 are allowed for the similar period at the end of the meeting. 
3. Question: During Public Comment, can priority be given to residents, business owners or others with significant ties to the city?  Then, others may comment, as time permits.
Answer: The Council cannot limit or prioritize speakers based on their ties to Sebastopol. The Council cannot require speakers to state their names, addresses, neighborhoods, residences, business associations, or provide any other identifying information. 
4. Question: Has the Council considered requiring that video be turned on, as a condition of offering public comment via zoom? 
Answer: We cannot require speakers to turn on video. Even if we could, we would not. We have disabled video to eliminate the appalling images and videos that were our initial zoom bombing challenge. 
5. Question: Has the Council disabled the unmute button on zoom, to eliminate spontaneous interruptions? 
Answer: Yes. We no longer allow speakers to unmute themselves, which has eliminated the spontaneous disruptive expletives that were disruptive in the past.

Do you have additional questions? Please email them to

Diana Rich, Sebastopol City Council
321 S. Main St. #60 
Sebastopol CA 95472
FPPC #1430199
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