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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

How Council Works

Council Meeting Dates

The Council holds regular weekly meetings on Wednesday at 9:30 am.  If there is sufficient business, recessed meetings are held Wednesday and Thursday at 2:00 pm or 6:00 pm.  Council meetings are held in Council Chambers City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave.

The Council Agenda

The Council Agenda, which lists all items to be considered by the Council at each week's sessions, is available to the public Friday afternoon preceding the Council meeting.  The Agenda is posted on the Internet.  It is also published in the Daily Journal of Commerce each Tuesday and copies are available outside Council Chambers.  General items of business are heard by Council on Wednesday mornings while Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for land-use plans or appeals.

Council Actions:

The Council has several ways of acting on an agenda item:


Ordinances are formal documents which carry the binding force of law and are passed by the Council in accordance with rules set forth in the City Charter.  Two kinds of Ordinances, emergency and non-emergency, appear on the Agenda.  Emergency Ordinances, designated in the Agenda by an asterisk preceding the agenda number, require a unanimous vote with at least four Council members present to vote.  Non-emergency ordinances come before Council twice and go into effect 30 days after passage by Council.  Public testimony is generally taken only at the first reading and the vote is taken at the second reading.   Only three votes are needed for approval.


A resolution usually establishes Council policy or directs certain administrative actions.  It requires only one reading and approval by three Council members.


Reports provide information, transmit other documents and/or make recommendations.  Reports are commonly used to approve bids and the completion of contracts, make appointments to boards or commissions, make recommendations, etc.

Time Certain:

When an important or controversial item is scheduled, it may be designated "Time Certain."  Such matters are not heard before the stated time, but may begin later if other business takes longer than planned. 

Consent Agenda:

To expedite Council business, routine and non-controversial items are placed on a Consent Agenda which is passed without discussion and with a single vote of approval by at least four Council members.  Anyone who wishes to comment on any item on the Consent Agenda may ask the Council Clerk to remove that item from the Consent to be heard as part of the Regular Agenda.  The Mayor will also provide an opportunity to make such a request prior to calling for the vote.

Quasi-Judicial Proceedings:

Special rules apply to land use appeals, which are quasi-judicial in nature and are conducted in accordance with Oregon State statutes and City Code provisions.  Those rules are stated in the hearing notification and at the beginning of the session.


In addition to testifying before Council on any item listed on the Agenda, citizens may address a communication to Council, in care of the Council Clerk, requesting to be heard by Council.  Generally, the request is placed at the beginning of the Wednesday morning Council session and the correspondent is given three minutes to speak.  This procedure is normally used only after the matter has been brought to the attention of the appropriate bureau or Commissioner.  The Ombudsman's Office may also be helpful in resolving problems.

Citizen Participation:

Council Members welcome public testimony.  As each item pulled from the Consent Agenda and all those on the Regular Agenda are read, the Mayor will ask if anyone wishes to be heard.  Normally, anyone wishing to speak is given three minutes and Council Members may then ask questions.  When many people are expected to testify, sign-up lists are placed outside Council Chambers.  Names are called by the Clerk, usually three at a time, and the persons testifying take a seat at the table facing Council.  Written materials may also be submitted to the Council Clerk for distribution to Council members either prior to or at the meeting.  Those wishing to make video or powerpoint presentations should check with the Council Clerk prior to the meeting (503-823-4086).  Written material for distribution to Council members may also be submitted by those unable to attend in person.  Assisted listening devices for the hearing impaired are also available and may be checked out prior to the meeting from the Council Clerk.

Council Meetings Online.  City Council meetings can be viewed live and previous meetings may be viewed online.

City Council meetings are also cable-cast live on City Net 30, Portland Community Media television.  For the replay schedule, see the PCM-TV website at or phone 503.288.1515. 

If you have any questions about how you may participate in the governmental process, please do not hesitate to contact the Council Clerk's office at Council Clerk Testimony,