Council Rules of Order

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A vital part of the democratic process and the conduct of your City's affairs is the regular meetings of your City Council, held on the first and third Tuesday of each month in the City Hall Council Chambers. It is here that laws, policies and basic decisions are made for our local government.

The City Council meeting is conducted according to the agenda. The City Manager is responsible for deciding whether or not (and when) to place an item on the City Council Agenda. The agenda is then prepared by the Chief Deputy City Clerk under the direction of the City Manager and the Mayor. This agenda, with supporting documents, is delivered to each Council Member no later than the Friday preceding the meeting, so that he/she will have the facts on each matter well in advance of the meeting.

Each Council Member has his/her own opinion and, as an elected representative, is responsible to all the people. It is his/her duty to satisfy him/herself that all the facts about any matter coming before the Council have been fully presented before a decision is made that may be vital to the future of Santa Maria.


Motion - A motion is a proposal that the Council take certain action or that it express itself as holding certain views. In all cases, where specific laws of the City or State do not provide otherwise, an affirmative vote by a simple majority of the Council members present and voting confirms or denies the proposal.

Resolution - When a motion is of such importance or length as to require its being set forth in writing, either to specifically record the reasons precipitating the action or to allow it to stand alone as a record of Council action in further proceedings and actions, this is called a "resolution". The same rules of adoption apply to resolutions as to motions, in that resolutions are simply a more formal presentation of a motion.

Ordinance - A city is a government of powers delegated to it by the federal and state governments. Ordinances are the vehicles through which a city expresses its laws enacted under these delegated powers.

There are special provisions in the state law which provide for the immediate adoption of ordinances, which become immediately effective, when such urgency is proven to be necessary to protect the public peace, health or safety. However, as a general rule, the state law provides that these legislative acts must be publicly read at two council meetings, and these meetings must occur at least five days apart. Ordinances are thus "introduced" at one council meeting and "adopted" at a second meeting. Unless otherwise provided by state law, an affirmative vote by three council members carries the motion to declare the introduction or adoption of an ordinance.

Within fifteen (15) days after adoption, the ordinance must be published in a local newspaper of general circulation. It becomes effective thirty (30) days following its adoption. This formal 30 day waiting period allows time for the voters of the city to file a referendum petition if they believe the ordinance should not be allowed to become effective.

An ordinance is the most binding and permanent type of council action and may be repealed or amended only by a subsequent ordinance.