3. Consider Change to Policy on Noticing Ad Hoc Advisory Committee Meetings
Meeting Date: January 29, 2004 Budgeted: N/A
Program/Line Item No.: N/A
Staff Contact: Arlene Tavani Cost Estimate: N/A
CEQA Compliance: N/A
SUMMARY: At the November 24, 2003 meeting, the Board adopted guidelines for noticing ad hoc advisory committee meetings. According to the open meeting rules established by the State of California in the Ralph M. Brown Act (Gov. Code, §§ 54950-54962), public agencies are not required to notice ad-hoc committee meetings. Therefore, the Board Chair and Vice Chair have requested that the Directors consider amending the District’s noticing guidelines to conform more closely to state law.
The Brown Act requires that any committee that fits the definition of a “legislative body” that exercises “subject matter jurisdiction” must be open to the public; that public comment must be received at the meeting; and that 72 hours prior to the meeting, an agenda must be posted in a public location and mailed to those who have requested it. District Counsel has determined that four of the District’s committees meet the definition of a legislative body with subject matter jurisdiction and must be noticed accordingly; they are the Administrative, Carmel River Advisory, Policy Advisory and Technical Advisory committees. According to District Counsel, the four ad hoc committees do not meet the definition of a “legislative body” and need not be noticed; they are the Water Demand, Project and Environmental Review, Public Outreach/Communications, and the Rules and Regulations Review committees.
The current guidelines are shown as Exhibit 3-A. The proposed policy is attached as Exhibit 3-B. The current guidelines require that all meetings of the ad hoc Water Demand and Project and Environmental Review committees be noticed and open to the public. Under the proposed policy, meetings of all four ad-hoc committees would be noticed and open to the public at the discretion of the committee Chair.
BACKGROUND: Prior to establishment of noticing guidelines for ad hoc committees, those meetings were generally open to the public and agendas were posted prior to the meeting. In September 2003, District staff requested direction from the Board on the preferred process for noticing the various ad hoc meetings.
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).) Ad hoc committees are not subject to these requirements.
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, District Counsel has determined that none of these appear to meet the definition of “legislative body” as defined by Government Code section 54952 (b). 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. According to District Counsel, the ad hoc committees meet these criteria; they are the Water Demand Committee, Project and Environmental Review, Public Outreach/Communications, and the Rules and Regulations Review Committee.