It’s only minutes before my very first Santa Barbara City Council meeting ever, and I realize I’m wearing shorts. I’ve been dressing myself for a good couple years now and somehow — boarding the bus, walking down the street, peeing in the bathroom at City Hall — I failed to notice that what I was wearing made me look less like an editorial intern, and more like a teenage girl on the way to the beach. I didn’t notice it, that is, until I was sitting in the council chamber with my bad tan showing, as if Sun-Tan Susie took a wrong turn down State Street to find herself in some creepy vortex of municipal government.

Well, if you’ve never been to a City Council meeting, I think I’ve boiled it down to a few key points — at least, the things you really need to get out of three-and-a-half riveting hours of democracy. Do you want to engage your elected officials, but feel alone and confused by the process? Use these drawings as your handy guide to feeling at home with Santa Barbara City Council.


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