13. REVIEW STATUS OF BOARD COMMITTEES AND RATIFY DIRECTION ON NOTICING NON-BROWN ACT SUBCOMMITTEE MEETINGS
Meeting Date: July 21, 2003 Budgeted: N/A
Program/Line Item No.: N/A
Staff Contact: Arlene Tavani Cost Estimate: N/A
General Counsel Approval: Review secured June 26, 2003
Committee Recommendation: N/A
CEQA Compliance: N/A
SUMMARY: District staff seeks a determination from the Board as to whether or not committee meetings not subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act (Gov. Code, §§ 54950-54962) open meeting law requirements should be publicly noticed, and if so, what procedures should be followed to notice those meetings. Detailed information on Brown Act requirements is provided in the Background section of this report.
The Ralph M Brown Act requires all meetings of a “legislative body” of a local entity to be open to the public, and to comply with a series of notice and agenda requirements. District Counsel has determined that four of the District’s committees are considered “legislative bodies” subject to the Brown Act open meeting requirements. These are the Administrative Committee, the Carmel River Advisory Committee, the Policy Advisory Committee and the Technical Advisory Committee. The agendas for these committees are posted at the District office and mailed to members of the public in accordance with Brown Act requirements.
On February 27, 2003, the Board of Directors established four ad-hoc advisory committees that do not meet the definition of “legislative body” as defined by the Brown Act. These non-Brown Act committees include the Demand Management Committee, Public Relations Committee, Project and Environmental Review Committee, and the Rules and Regulations Review Committee.
In practice some, but not all of these non-Brown Act committee meetings have been open to the public and followed a prepared agenda. The District does mail agendas to members of the public who have requested notice. The Water Demand Committee agendas are posted at the District office and on the web site. Minutes of the Water Demand and Rules and Regulations Review committees are available for review by the public and Directors in the monthly Board packets.
RECOMMENDATION: The Board may wish to establish a uniform set of notice and agenda requirements for meetings of these four ad-hoc advisory committees identified as not subject to the Brown Act, but it is not required to do so by law. It is suggested that either a clear set of meeting rules be established, or that specific rules be set for each committee.
If the Board should choose to establish a procedure for public notice of these meetings, staff recommends the following: (1) prepare an agenda for each meeting that includes time for receipt of public comment; (2) display prominently on each agenda a note which states that the meeting is not subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act and that the agenda is subject to change; (3) at the time the agenda is mailed to the committee members, transmit the agenda to members of the public who have requested it; (4) post the agenda on the District web site at the time it is transmitted to the Board and public.
BACKGROUND: In general, the Ralph M. Brown Act open meeting law requires all meetings of a “legislative body” of a local public entity to be open to the public, and to comply with a series of notice and agenda requirements. (Gov. Code, § 54953 (a)).
In addition to the governing body of a local agency, Government Code section 54952 (b) defines the following to be included within the definition of the term “legislative body”:
A commission, committee, board, or other body of a local agency, whether permanent or temporary, decision making or advisory, created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body. However, advisory committees, composed solely of the members of the legislative body which are less than a quorum of the legislative body are not legislative bodies, except that standing committees of a legislative body, irrespective of their composition, which have a continuing subject matter jurisdiction, or a meeting schedule fixed by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body are legislative bodies for purposes of this chapter.
The term “legislative body” is also construed in one appellate case, Joiner v. City of Sebastopol (1981) 125 Cal.App.3d 799, and three opinions of the Attorney General, 68 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 34 (1985), 80 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 308 (1997), and 81 Op Atty Gen 281 (1998).
Based on this set of authority, it is District Counsel’s determination that four committees serving the Water Management District are “legislative bodies” as defined by Government Code section 54952 (b). These are the Administrative Committee, the Carmel River Advisory Committee (CRAC), the Policy Advisory Committee and the Technical Advisory Committee. The latter three committees are “legislative bodies” as they are not comprised solely of a sub-quorum of the board; the Administrative Committee is a “legislative body” as it has regular continuing subject matter jurisdiction over any fiscal matter affecting the District. Accordingly each of the four bodies is required to comply with all notice, agenda and public comment requirements of the Brown Act.
Although the District has from time to time formed other committees, none of these appear to meet the definition of “legislative body” as defined by Government Code section 54952 (b).
These non-Brown Act committees are each advisory, are composed solely of the members of the board but include less than a quorum, are not standing committees that have continuing subject matter jurisdiction, and do not meet pursuant to a schedule fixed by ordinance, resolution, or formal act of the board. The ad-hoc committees established by Board on February 27, 2003 meet these criteria; they are the Demand Management Committee, Public Relations Committee, Rules and Regulations Review Committee and the Project and Environmental Review Committee.