City Council Norms, Values, and Principles of Governance

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Revised March 2023 

Council Norms

Demonstrate Respect and Show Professionalism

The City Council shows respect and practices professionalism through their actions and words, and shows compassion for community, staff, and other members of the City Council in all situations, including those involving disagreement and difference. We focus on forward thinking, while building on history and lessons learned from the past. We avoid responding to perceived derogatory or repugnant public comments during City Council meetings. Out of respect to each other, staff, and members of the public, we avoid using cell phones and other communication devices during City Council and other public meetings where we preside.

Take Responsibility

We are accountable to the community, staff, and to each other for our actions and words. Wehold ourselves to the highest ethical standards. We act with integrity and lead by example.

Encourage Civic Engagement

We value and encourage the input of others, and challenge ideas not individuals in our role as policy makers. We recognize the importance of input from various groups and seek to actively engage the community.

Show Appreciation

When appropriate, we recognize and show genuine appreciation for the hard work and accomplishments of staff, advisory body members, community organizations, members of the public and fellow City Council members.

Maintain Transparent Communication

We strive to maintain transparent communication, in meetings and through online and written correspondence.

Council Values


We value and foster trust and honesty among staff and one another. We listen to others and seek to create an environment of mutual support.

Honest and Effective Communication

We commit to direct, respectful communication to seek a shared understanding. We value diversity of thought and will engage in open dialogue with each other and the public.

Data Driven Decision Making

We seek to make data driven (qualitative and quantitative) policy decisions. Our findings will rely on fact-based evidence, not unvalidated assumptions.


We work as a team to create effective policy, focusing on the best outcomes for the community, as a whole.

Enthusiasm and Effort

We have a genuine enthusiasm for our role as policy makers and community leaders. We come to meetings well prepared and ready for robust discussion.

Principles of Governance

The City Council will govern on an at-large (community-wide) basis to address the needs of the entire community. Resources will be allocated based on community-wide priorities. To ensure a community-wide focus, City Council members and residents may communicate directly regardless of the district the Council member represents or the district where the community member lives.

Council-Staff Relations

Council and staff work in partnership to achieve our goals. Consistent with Livermore's Council-Manager form of local government, the City Manager plays a central role in directing and facilitating Council-staff relations. Typically, Council members are expected to engage only with Department Directors and other executive staff, and to do so under the direction of the City Manager. Similarly, Council members are expected to engage with City Attorney staff only with the consent of the City Attorney. Trust and effective communication are key to ensure a productive partnership.
Council Responsibility

The primary role of the City Council is to act as policy makers and to govern the activities of the City of Livermore. We strive to understand and reflect the entire community's values and needs. To achieve this, we serve as an oversight body and provide clear policy direction to staff and follow through with the community. We recognize our responsibility of making sound financial decisions that enhance the quality of life for Livermore residents.

Council members are encouraged to seek information and advice from the City Manager and City Attorney as part of their due diligence when forming their own opinions and developing their courses of action on issues. The Council recognizes that staff time is a limited resource and that in some cases complying with Council direction may require substantial staff time. In such cases staff will inform Council if their direction cannot be absorbed and that reprioritization of other tasks may be necessary. Before requesting an item under Matters Initiated, a City Council member is expected to ask the City Manager if there is adequate staff resource capacity needed to address the requested item.

Staff Responsibility

It is the responsibility of staff, under the direction of the City Manager, to support the City Council and implement policies created by the Council. The City Manager is critical in helping to translate the policy direction for staff, and to ensure that there is sufficient clarity and context. The City Manager and staff shall not take any action requested by an individual Council Member even when that action is consistent with Council priorities.

To effectively support Council, staff will provide timely and complete information needed to make sound policy decisions. Reports and recommendations will be comprehensive and contain explicit and clear information including all facts. Staff will include options or alternatives when appropriate. Additionally, staff is expected to provide guidance and advice to Council, ensuring that they are complying with rules and procedures, and adhering to norms and values.

City Attorney Responsibility

It is the responsibility of the City Attorney, as the chief legal advisor of and attorney for the City and all its departments and office, to provide legal oversight of the City's governance, 
operation and public policy. The City Attorney provides legal advice and counseling to the City Council as a body and takes direction from a majority of the City Council. The City Attorney shall not take any action requested by an individual Council Member contrary to the desires of the City that have been expressed by a majority of the City Council. The City Attorney counsels and advises the City Council, City Manager, and staff of policy matters to help them make well informed decisions but does not create policy other than through the Risk Management Division's functions.

The City Attorney advocates for the City and upholds the integrity of the City's ordinances, regulations, and policies.

As the advisor and advocate for the City, the City Attorney owes two duties directly to the
public: to act as a check on governmental action in certain limited circumstances, and to accurately advise the public when called upon to do so. In addition, the City Attorney is a constitutional officer that has direct authority to take certain actions independent of direction from the City Council and must also fulfill the rules of professional responsibility as an attorney and as a government attorney.

Council- Advisory Body Relations

The City Council has created boards, commissions, and committees to advise the City Council. Advisory body members are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the City Council. We recognize and value the role of advisory bodies to reflect the entire community through their recommendations to inform our policy decisions. Advisory bodies communicate to the City Council through their annual updates, meeting actions and/or through their staff-liaisons. City Council can provide guidance to the advisory bodies by commenting on their proposed annual work plans, included during annual updates.

City Council Meeting Rules of Procedure

In addition, the City Council is also governed by City Council Meeting Rules of Procedure.