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Phone: (310) 458-8211
Fax: (310) 394-2962
Santa Monica City Hall
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1685 Main Street, Room 102
PO Box 2200
Santa Monica, CA 90407

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is lobbying?
Lobbying is soliciting or trying to influence officials.  Lobbying is a constitutional right guaranteed by the First Amendment.

What is a lobbyist?
SMMC Section 4.85.010 defines lobbyist as any individual who receives economic consideration as the employee, representative or contractor of a person or entity, other than the City of Santa Monica, for communicating with any official or employee of the City for the purpose of influencing a City action.  “Lobbyist” does not include City contractors and those seeking City contracts through bids and proposals.

Why do I have to register?
Regulation of lobbying activities helps ensure governmental transparency and thereby fosters public confidence in government.  The purpose of the law is to provide the public with information on contacts with government officials.

Who is required to register as a City of Santa Monica lobbyist?
Individuals who receive economic consideration as the employee, representative or contract of a person or entity, other than the City of Santa Monica.
Some examples of those that should register include:

• The intergovernmental affairs representative of a utility or government entity
• Partners and any associates of a law firm that lobbies
• Architect and attorney of a development project team
• Hired consultant lobbying for a neighborhood group
• Executive Director or Head Fundraiser for a nonprofit group

Who are the officials?
Officials include:

• Councilmembers
• Board Members, Commissioners, City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk
• City department directors
• City employees that make direct recommendation to the above
• Any person who is required to file a Statement of Economic Interest.

What information do I have to provide in order to register?
The registration form requires the following information:

  • Lobbyist/Lobbyist Firm
  • Business/Mailing Address
  • E-mail Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Names of all owners of the Lobbyist’s business if the business is a sole proprietorship of less than 5 members
  • Name of each individual Lobbyist
  • Description of the nature of the business entity or organization
  • Name, business address and phone number of each client receiving lobbying services
  • Nature of each client’s business
  • Brief description of the governmental decision that the Lobbyist seeks to influence on each client’s behalf and the names of the Officials the Lobbyist has contacted on each client’s behalf
  • Name of each person employed or retained by the Lobbyist to engage in lobbying activities on each client’s behalf
  • Date, amount and description of any payment made to, or on behalf of any City official or member of an official’s family

How do I register?
Download a form from and submit the completed form and fee to the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall.

How much is it to register?
Resolution No. 11051 (CCS) sets the fee at $69 for new registrations and $37 for renewals and amendments.

When do I register?
The Lobbyist Registration regulations become effective on September 19, 2016.  Lobbyists must register within ten days of qualifying as a lobbyist.  The registration is valid through June 30th and must be renewed annually between June 1 and June 30.
Calculation of ten days begins upon the earliest occurrence of one of the following:

• Entering into an agreement for lobbying services
• Lobbyist activity with an official
• Receiving payment and/or retainer for services to be rendered for the purposes of influencing a legislative or administrative action

When is a lobbyist require to amend their registration?
Lobbyist must amend their registration when there is any change in information.  The amendment must be filed within 10 days of the change.  The amendment fee will only be charged for amendments to client information or the addition of a new client.  Simply adding contacts to an existing client will not trigger the amendment fee.

Do I have to register if I speak at a Council or Commission meeting?
No. The lobbyist regulations do not apply when lobbying at public meetings.  You do not have to register for addressing the Council or a commission.  But, if you have met with an official outside of the meeting and are paid to influence their decision, you must register as a lobbyist.

If I send an email to the Council regarding a Council item, am I a lobbyist?
You are not required to register for submitting written correspondence to the Council.

I am a City Contractor.  Do I have to register?
The definition in Municipal Code Section 4.85.010 does not include City contractors and those seeking City contracts through bids and proposals.  But, if you have clients other than the City of Santa Monica, you may need to register as a lobbyist.
There is an exception for people bidding and working on City contracts but if they lobby on a different issue they will need to register.  An example would be a non-profit grantee that then lobbies for something unrelated to their grant.

How do I find out who the lobbyists are?
The Lobbyist Registration information is posted on the City’s website at  This information is updated as changes occur.

Which employees make direct recommendations to the City Council, Boards and Commission, and Department Directors?
The City’s Conflict of Interest Code requires designated employees who make or influence governmental decisions to submit a Statement of Economic Interest.  City staff members who file Statement of Economic Interests are the City employees who make recommendations to the City Council, Boards and Commissions, and Department Directors.

Do all employees in a company that lobbies have to register?
The name of each person employed or retained by the lobbyist to engage in lobbying activities must be included in the registration.

I manage government affairs for my organization.  Am I a lobbyist?
Generally speaking, yes, but it depends on your job duties.  If in doubt, err on the side of caution and register.

My purpose is to continually lobby on behalf of my group (such as the Chamber of Commerce).  Do I have to register and how do I explain the nature of the business?
Yes, you must register.  You can use a general description such as “outreach and promotion of interests of members” or “various permitting”.

Do I become a lobbyist when I am applying for a standard permit?
Merely applying for a permit does not make you a lobbyist.  Although the Code does not define legislative and administrative actions, the intent is to not require registration for ministerial acts such as ABC licenses and tenant improvements.  For instance, the manager of a small restaurant who contacts an official about one matter, such as an alcohol permit, need not register as a lobbyist.

I am working on a development project and I’m sure we will have many contacts throughout the City.  Can I pre-register anticipated contacts? 
Although the Code requires registration within ten days after communicating with any official or employee of the City for the purpose of influencing a legislative or administrative action, we are allowing pre-registration of anticipated contacts.  Following actual lobbying activity, your registration should be amended to reflect the specific officials contacted with an Addendum.

I have a property that I am planning to renovate and meet with Planners, do I need to register as a Lobbyist?
No. Persons representing themselves in attempting to obtain decisions relating to their own properties or business.

Last updated: 7/25/2017
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