How to Write a Letter to the City Council

by Christina Whitaker

Part of being an active citizen is staying involved with your local, state and federal governments. Whether this means tracking legislation or simply staying aware of issues, you can play an active role in the decisions that elected officials make. One way to do so is to write letters to city council members regarding issues that are affecting your family, immediate community or the city at large. The letter should outline the problem and potential solutions clearly.

Identify the city council member who represents your district. You can do this with the website of the city council or the election office. Write down the member's name and address.

Assess the issue you want to address in your letter. Be as specific as possible. For example, if you are writing about poor funding in your child's school, note all of the effects you are aware of. List the problems in detail. If you need more information, ask those who are closest to the problem, such as your child, teachers or city administrators. The greater detail you can provide, the more impact your letter will have.

Outline the causes of the problem. If you know what has caused the problem you are addressing, state what it is. For example, a city-approved construction project may be causing too much noise in your neighborhood. Be clear about the causes so the city council can get a better idea of how to address the issue.

Propose a resolution. Brainstorm with community members about potential solutions to the problem your letter is addressing. For example: "In response to increased noise, we propose limiting construction activity to between the hours of 9:00 to 5:00 only." Be clear about your expectations and how you think the city council can best address your problem.

Sign the letter and include your address. This will confirm that you do, in fact, live in a particular member's district.

Address the letter to your city council representative and send it directly to the member's office. Alternatively, you can attend a city council meeting, present the issue during the public comment session, and give the letter to the council directly.

About the Author

Christina Whitaker began her writing career in 2005 in newspaper journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and a law degree. Her legal experience includes work in Federal Court, and civil and criminal litigation. She also maintains a blog on social, pop-culture and cultural matters.

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