Aug 2 2012

State Suspends Brown Act Requirements

While compliance is now optional, Piedmont will continue its notifications –

As of the effective date of the 2012-13 California State Budget, the legal obligation to provide notifications of local government hearings and decisions pursuant to the Ralph M. Brown Act (California’s “Sunshine” Law) has been suspended. The 59-year-old  Brown Act, enacted in the 1950’s to increase government transparency and improve public access to local and state decisions, is now optional, rather than a legal requirement.

However, City Administrator Geoffrey Grote has confirmed that, for Piedmont,

“There will be no change in the way we do business because of the proposed changes at the State level, it is Piedmont’s tradition to meet the requirements of the Brown Act and we will continue to do so.”  
Cities and public agencies along with the League of California cities have been surprised and alarmed by the change.  Newspapers, interested individuals, organized groups, media outlets (including the Piedmont Civic Association) consider the notification processes vital to participation and dissemination of governmental agendas.
The legal obligation to make Brown notifications has become optional because the State will not make reimbursements for notification costs by public entities in its 2012-13 budget.   If the proposed  State tax measure is passed by voters in November, funding and the legal requirement to notify will be restored.
In recent years, Piedmont has rarely received reimbursement for notifications, despite periodic submission of claims to the State.  The claims have ranged from $7,000 to $8,400 per year between 2005 and 2010.  Reimbursement by the State has been sporadic, with the last claim paid in 2007 for 2004-5 costs.  Mr. Grote has indicated “We don’t count on receiving the money.”

The Brown Act purpose and intent states:

In enacting this chapter, 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.

Some cities have begun the process of incorporating into their ordinances the language in the Brown Act to assure their residents continue to have timely notification of city actions and considerations.

Editors’ Note:  Confirmation has been requested from the Piedmont Unified School District on whether it intends to continue notifications pursuant to the Brown Act, as well.

Read more sources about this news –

San Francisco Chronicle article

In San Diego:

In Watsonville :



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