Guide to City Hall

by Julie Lovins

A great way to tour City Hall is to visit  But it’s very worthwhile to visit City Hall in person. Walk in the main door of the building, near the back of the plaza.  Next, look up!

Walk toward the staircase, and continue past it some distance. On the left you’ll find the Atrium Conference Room, sometimes used for small public meetings.

The two biggest City departments are located on the first floor to your right. Public Works spans everything having to do with transportation, acquisition and management of City property, solid waste/recycling, environmental sustainability, engineering of our infrastructure. Public Services is the division you’re mostly likely to talk to: about water meters, systems and conservation; sewers; landfill; street/sidewalk/streetlight maintenance; and traffic lights.

Leftward, the other big doors lead to the Community Development Department, which comprises both Planning and Building, as well as staff concerned with economic development of the city and with neighborhood preservation. At the counter, staff assists building permits or inspections, zoning, and development. You’ll see a lot of blueprints being deployed for discussion. There’s a microfiche reader on the left, for looking at records; and a small conference area to the right. You can get brochures on design guidelines, housing and homeowner issues, etc. at the back left.

On the second floor, if you bear left at the top of the curving “front” staircase, you’ll find the Plaza Conference Room.  This is used for public meetings that are not large enough to occupy Council Chambers, almost next to it.

Straight from the top of the stairhead toward the back of City Hall, you’ll find the Finance and Administrative Services Department on the right. The interaction you’re most likely to have with them is paying for something, such as a license, permit, fee, swim pass, or utility bill. Most of these transactions can be handled electronically or by phone.  The most useful phone number is probably 903-6317, for example starting/stopping water/sewer or trash collection service.

The third floor has offices for City staff you are somewhat less likely to visit, with the exception of the City Clerk’s Office. This office handles public noticing, commission appointment applications, and electoral matters, among others. It also serves as the reception area for the offices of the City Manager and City Attorney. While you’re on the third floor, be sure to admire the skylights over the central stairwell, and the equally colorful glass panels along the side aisles.

Other City services that you already know about include the Center for the Performing Arts next to City Hall, the library, and the police and fire station in the northwest corner of the neighborhood, off of Villa. But on North Whisman, the Community Services Department oversees a huge collection of services important to residents, involving recreation (notably Shoreline Park, the golf course, all parks and pools, playing fields, the Senior Center) and our urban forest.

Public Works: 903-6311
Public Services 903-6329
Community Development, Planning 903-6306
Community Development, Building 903-6313
Finance & Administrative Services Department 903-6316
City Clerk’s Office 903-6304

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