ISSUE: How Can Residents Engage With the City Government to Address Issues or Learn More About What’s Going On?

FACT: There are numerous ways to connect with your local government. Online, in person, or over the phone – each one offers a line of communication to the City of Virginia Beach to engage on issues and learn more about what's happening in our community.
​​​​​The type of issue or question a resident has typically drives the method they will use to connect with the City.. The most important issue – when you have an emergency. Everyone knows to call 911, but our 911 call center can also receive text messages. In 2015, Virginia Beach became the first city in the region to offer the service. Phone calls are always preferred, but the text-to-911 service is especially helpful for our residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, but also for individuals who are in a situation where a voice call isn’t possible. When texting 911, be sure to include your location and type of emergency in the first message.

For those who have a burning question and not a burning house, 311 is our City’s 24/7/365 information resource. The call center is staffed with knowledgeable employees who can answer questions, or connect callers with the right city department. For our residents who’d just rather not talk on the phone, we’ve got you covered. Head to VBgov.com/VB311​ and you can chat with a representative online. Or, send them an email at VB311@VBgov.com.

The City’s website is a great resource. And if you’re reading this article, chances are your own research led you here. In fact, you’re one of the 91% of our residents who use online services to get information about our city, and part of the 73% who go right to the source. Our homepage is the at-a-glance dashboard for all things City-related. The rotating headlines on the main page are updated with the current events such as public meetings or initiatives.

Right from the main page, there are links to City Council agendas, building locations, a calendar of events, and the latest news from the City. If what you’re looking for isn’t on the homepage, the search bar is your friend. Type in a word or two about what you’re looking for and the search engine will do the rest.

There are also a number of mobile-friendly apps​ published by the City. Each one offers information about parking, events, City parks, or how to report an issue to Public Works, such as a pothole or a broken street light.

Don’t forget to sign up for VBAlert​ while you’re on our website. It’s the City’s opt-in emergency alert and warning system. Registered users receive text messages on their mobile phones when there’s a public safety situation or other major city event. Things like weather alerts, evacuation announcements or transportation disruptions. Registration is free.

Now, it’s not enough to just put information out into the world – we need to hear from our residents about the things that are important to them. This is how City leadership makes informed decisions about everything from service delivery to the budget priorities. Fortunately, there are several ways to share those thoughts with your local government.

For our social media savvy friends, we have a presence on a number of platforms: Facebook, Nextdoor, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr. Altogether, it comes up to almost 260,000 followers. Each platform has its own features, but they all provide ways to share information with people in our community. They also provide forums where residents can interact with each other about issues important to them. For a complete list of City-run social media sites, please click here.

For a more in-person approach, anyone is welcome to address the City Council on issues that are important to them. For up to three minutes, you’ll have the attention of your elected officials to share your thoughts about a particular agenda item. If it’s not on the agenda, there’s still a way to address the City Council. On the first Tuesday of every month at the conclusion of the formal session, those who have signed up have three minutes to discuss any business that isn’t on the City Council agenda. To register to appear before Council, please call the City Clerk’s Office at 757-385-4303, and one of the staff will assist you.

Individual council members will host informal gatherings throughout the year to meet with their constituents and talk about upcoming projects and initiatives, and to hear directly from the residents we serve. City departments will also hold public meetings to discuss upcoming projects or hear what residents would like to see happen in their neighborhoods. Meetings will be published on the City’s website, social media, and on local news.

Lastly, public surveys are another way we hear from residents. A recent example is the e-scooter survey conducted last year. Resident input was collected to determine what people wanted to see from scooter regulations. That information in turn was used to present options to the City Council on how to move forward in a way that our residents wanted to see. Since January 2018, the City has offered 23 surveys that have cultivated more than 679,000 responses to questions and 33,000 comments. Each and every one has affected the course of the City’s direction on a decision. A complete list of past surveys, and any current ones, can be found at PublicInput.com/VirginiaBeach​.

In all of these instances, hearing from our residents makes an impact on any number of issues that impact their everyday lives. Whether it’s adding a fire station to a neighborhood or putting a slide in a City park, it all comes down to knowing what our community wants to see happen. And to do that, we need your input! Join the conversation whenever you can – it does make a difference, and your City is always listening.

Contact Information

VB411 - Connecting With Your Local Government