Brown Act – CA Open Meetings
Father of Davis Stirling Act
§ 54954.3. Opportunity for public to address legislative body;
(a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, Carlson v Paradise Unified School District
…the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created
CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 425.16 (e) …,
“act in furtherance of a person’s right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue” includes: …(3) any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest;
Under section 54952.2, as well as prior case law, a gathering need not be formally convened in order to be covered by the Act. The court held that a luncheon gathering… was a meeting within the meaning of the Act. …Construed in the light of the Brown Act’s objectives, the term ‘meeting’ extends to informal sessions or conferences of the board members designed for the discussion of public business. Brown Act Attorney General’s Explanation
How can one address the item (one in list: a single thing in a list of things) if it’s not spelled out, or until it is?
Brown Act is intended to ensure the public’s right to attend public agency meetings to facilitate public participation in all phases of local government decision-making, and to curb misuse of the democratic process by secret legislation of public bodies. Chaffee v. San Francisco Library Com’n
Even though the Brown Act does not apply to associations, it may provide useful guidelines for matters not specifically addressed by the Open Meeting Act. For example, may members of the board attend an informational seminar on an upcoming agenda item without violating the Open Meeting Act? The applicable portion of the Open Meeting Act is unclear: Davis Stirling
Los Angeles City Attorney Video on the Brown Act Open Meeting Laws
Ralph Brown Act Prepared by the CA Attorney General
Actual Code on State’s Website – Government Code 54950-54963
Bagley Keene Open Meeting Act Government Code sections 11120-11132 40 page summary pdf>
Father of Davis Sterling
MORE Brown Act VIDEOS
LA City Attorney's Office for
Neighborhood Council Training
- LA City Attorney
Part 1 VIDEO
- Part 2 VIDEO
- Part 3 VIDEO
- Brown Act Essentials VIDEO is an invaluable resource for anyone who wishes to better understand their rights when accessing meetings and agendas of state and municipal agencies in California.
1st Amendment Coalition.org
Brown Act Primer
Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condominium Assn.
Board meetings served a function similar to that of a governmental body. As our Supreme Court has recognized, owners of planned development units “comprise a little democratic sub society….”
In exchange for the benefits of common ownership, the residents elect an legislative/executive board and delegate powers to this board. This delegation concerns not only activities conducted in the common areas, but also extends to life **210 within “the confines of the home itself.” A homeowners association board is in effect “a quasi-government entity paralleling in almost every case the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a municipal government.” Because of a homeowners association board’s broad powers and the number of individuals potentially affected by a board’s actions, the Legislature has mandated that boards hold open meetings and allow the members to speak publicly at the meetings. ( Civ.Code, §§ 1363.05 , 1363; 1350- 1376.)
These provisions parallel California’s open meeting laws regulating government officials, agencies and boards. (Ralph M. Brown Act, Gov.Code, § 54950 et seq.) Both statutory schemes mandate open governance meetings, with notice, agenda and minutes requirements, and strictly limit closed executive sessions. (See, e.g., Civ.Code, § 1363.05, subd. (b). ) Damon v. Ocean Hills Journalism Club davis-stirling.com
Brown Act Model
The legislature patterned the Open Meeting Act on the open meeting provisions of the Brown Act:
Because of a homeowners association board’s broad powers and the number of individuals potentially affected by a board’s actions, the Legislature has mandated that boards hold open meetings and allow the members to speak publicly at the meetings. (Civ.Code) These provisions parallel California’s open meeting laws regulating government officials, agencies and boards. (Ralph M. Brown Act, Gov.Code, § 54950 et seq.) Both statutory schemes mandate open governance meetings, with notice, agenda and minutes requirements, and strictly limit closed executive sessions. (Damon v. Ocean Hills Journalism Club ) Davis-stirling.com
Links – Resources – References
Davis Stirling.com on how we can look to guidance in the Brown Act, where the stakes are higher.