County of Marin - News Releases - E-commenting Feature

For Immediate Release
March 27, 2020

County Offers E-Commenting for Board Meetings

Considering public health emergency, residents may share thoughts online

San Rafael, CA – In response to the local shelter-in-place order, the County of Marin is making it easier for resident participation at its Board of Supervisors meetings during the COVID-19 emergency with a new online option for remote participation.

A closeup of a person's hands working on a laptop computer with a cup of coffee in the foreground.For the first time, residents will be able to add a comment online and have it read aloud during a Board of Supervisors meeting.

The County tested an e-commenting tool and will offer it for the first time at the March 31 Board meeting. All comments received during the meeting will be read aloud to the Board until Board President Katie Rice closes the public comment period and moves on to the next agenda item.

The tool can be found on the Board’s webpage for agendas, archives, and staff reports. The e-commenting link is located next to the agenda and allows for residents to comment on a specific agenda item.

“This a way for us to support residents’ adherence to the shelter-in-place order, but still offer them a way to participate in our meetings,” Rice said. “Like other jurisdictions we are trying to find ways to conduct County business as transparently and inclusively as possible. We will treat this as an experiment, see how it goes, and make further adjustments as needed.”

E-comment participants need to create a free login and password before posting. Take note during the registration process that a confirmation email from Granicus could land in the new registrant’s junkmail inbox.

During the COVID-19 emergency, governments all over the country are adjusting to new challenges in meeting participation and compliance with laws that protect informational transparency and public participation in municipal decision-making. Recent action by Governor Gavin Newsom allows public agencies more electronic flexibility in how they conduct meetings during the shelter-in-place order.

The County’s Clerk of the Board worked with Granicus, its vendor for the online Board agendas and video archiving of Board meetings, to install the e-commenting platform.

This is how the feature works:

  • After an agenda is posted online on the Thursday prior to a Tuesday meeting, the e-commenting feature will open on the Board’s webpage. E-comments will be entered into the public record until the close of the Board meeting.
  • All e-comments will be forwarded to the Board members.
  • E-comments received during the meeting will be read aloud when that item comes up during the meeting (up to a 3-minute limit).
  • The e-comment feature is also available for general comment on non-agendized matters.
  • After the meeting, all e-comments will become part of the public record along with all mailed or emailed comments.

The Board plans to continue holding its regular public meetings during the COVID-19 emergency so it can conduct essential government business. The Board chamber at the Civic Center in San Rafael (Suite 330) has 177 permanent seats for the public and a maximum room capacity of 200. It will be open to the public during meetings. Given the shelter-in-place order and social distancing recommendations, residents are encouraged to use one of the electronic options rather than attending in person. Members of large advocacy groups who would like to comment on an agenda item should consider commenting in writing or sending one spokesperson to speak on behalf of the group.

Board meetings are streamed live on the County website and are available for archived viewing on the same webpage the next day. For Comcast TV subscribers, the meetings generally are shown live and in reruns on Channel 27 through partnerships with the Community Media Center of Marin and Novato Community Television.

Check the Marin HHS webpage for more information about local COVID-19 developments.


Diane Patterson
Assistant Clerk of the Board
Board of Supervisors

Marin County Civic Center
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 329
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7331
CRS Dial 711
Email: Diane Patterson