The following information is designed to be a general guide to the Brown Act and should NOT be considered legal advice. For questions about specific situations concerning the Brown Act please consult an attorney.
WHO MUST COMPLY?
Governing body of a local agency
Advisory committees (with exceptions)
Citizen volunteer groups, task forces, etc.
Standing committees of legislative body
continuing subject matter jurisdiction or
schedule fixed by resolution or other formal action
WHAT IS A MEETING?
Congregation of a majority of a legislative body
same time and place
to hear, discuss or deliberate
Retreats Are Meetings (the interaction among board members is the public’s business)
WHAT IS NOT A MEETING?
Individual Contacts and Conversations
other agency meetings
Ad hoc committee meetings
DON’T DISCUSS AGENCY BUSINESS
TYPES OF MEETINGS
GENERAL MEETING REQUIREMENTS
Open and Public
No Conditions on Attendance
Video/Audio & Broadcasting
MEETING REQUIREMENTS, PART 2
Public Opportunity to Address Board
Time and Place Set by Ordinance, etc.
72 Hours Notice Required
WHAT ABOUT ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA
No action can be taken… except
2/3 of the full board, or if less than full board is present, a unanimous vote that immediate action is needed and need came to board’s attention after agenda was posted
Applies to Regular Meetings ONLY!
Allows action prior to next regular meeting
Usual purpose: to meet deadlines
24 hours notice
Business is limited to subjects on agenda, including public comment
Written notice to each board member & each media member requesting notice
Disruption of public facilities
Work stoppage / Disaster
Activity which impairs public health/safety
Notice/Agenda requirements DO NOT apply
Government Code Section 54956.5
NOTICE REQUREMENTS FOR EMERGENCY MEETINGS
Written notice to each board member and each media member requesting notice
One hour notice
No Closed Sessions
Post minutes ASAP - Leave posted 10 days
Other posting requirements
Treated like a regular meeting
If meeting is continued within five days of original meeting -- use original agenda…
If not… USE A NEW AGENDA!
Post notice of adjournment on or near the door of meeting place within 24 hours.
If no members show up, clerk may adjourn.
Hub and Spoke
At which agency business is discussed
Collective Staff Briefings
Special challenges for staff discussion with board members
May be used for all purposes
At least a quorum within jurisdiction
Notice, agenda & meeting requirements apply at each location
Votes must be by roll call
PUBLIC OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS THE BOARD
Regular meetings ONLY
Within the subject matter jurisdiction
Brief response, but NO ACTION!
Do not prohibit public criticism
Reasonable time limitations and other regulations are permitted (be consistent)
Post in Accessible Location
A Brief General Description of the Items Being Considered. (Usually Less Than 20 Words).
Specify Time and Location
Regular – 72 hours
Special – 24 hours
Emergency – 1 hour
Adjourned – Depends on how adjourned
RECORDS & PUBLIC ACCESS
General rule - agendas, minutes & writings distributed at board meetings are public records.
Materials must be made available during or after the meeting if materials are provided at the meeting.
EXCEPTIONS TO PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF DOCUMENTS
Specified special election documents
Preliminary drafts not regularly kept
Records relating to pending litigation
Records relating to personal privacy
Contents of real estate appraisals
CLOSED SESSION RECORDS
Government Code Section 54957.2
Minutes may be kept public record
Board members can review
Persons designated by court order
ENFORCEMENT, PENALTIES & REMEDIES
Stop or prevent violations
Review board rules/actions or determine applicability
Compel taping of closed sessions
Criminal Action (Misdemeanor)
Need intent and overt act
Lawsuit filed to declare action null and void
Board given “cure and correct” opportunity
PENALTIES FOR BROWN ACT VIOLATIONS
Reasonable attorneys’ fees
Misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for six months or less and/or fine not exceeding $1000