Update: Calif. Open Meeting Requirements Under COVID-19
Governor Issues New Executive Order Excusing Physical Location Requirements for Public Comment and Observation for Public Meetings
Yesterday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order (N-29-20), which, in part, supersedes Paragraph 11 of Executive Order (N-25-20) issued on Thursday. The new Executive Order excuses a legislative body, under the Ralph M. Brown Act, from providing a physical location for the public to observe and comment if certain conditions are met. A physical location does not need to be provided if the legislative body:
- “[H]olds a meeting via teleconferencing and allows members of the public to observe and address the meeting telephonically or otherwise electronically;”
- Implements a procedure for receiving and “swiftly resolving” requests for reasonable modification or accommodations from individuals with disabilities, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and resolving any doubt in favor of accessibility;
- Gives advance notice of the public meeting and posts agendas according to the timeframes and procedures already prescribed by the Brown Act (i.e. 72 hours for regular meetings and 24 hours for special meetings) and
- Gives notice of the means by which members of the public may observe the meeting and offer public comment, in each instance where notice or agendas are posted.
If there is a change in the means by which the public may observe and comment, or if the notice of the meeting or the agenda were posted prior to this Executive Order, a legislative body may satisfy this requirement by advertising this change using “the most rapid means of communication available at the time” within the meaning of Government Code section 54954(e). This will include posting the change to the body’s website.
Note that the Executive Order says that these provisions regarding the conduct of public meetings shall only apply “during the period in which state or local public health officials have imposed or recommended social distancing measures.”
For more information or any questions regarding options for holding meetings, please contact the authors of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Municipal Law practice group or your BB&K attorney.
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