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Governor Newsom Amends Brown Act Changes in Subsequent Executive Order
On March 17, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-29-20. In addition to provisions regarding Medi-Cal, CalFresh and CalWORKs, the Order supersedes the changes to the Brown Act in his March 12, 2020 Executive Order.
Under the Executive Order, Governor Newsom waived several requirements for teleconferenced meetings of local agencies. The provisions waived are:
- Each teleconference location must be identified in the notice and agenda of the meeting or proceeding;
- Each teleconference location must be open and accessible to the public;
- The agenda must provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the legislative body directly at each teleconference location
- The agenda must be posted at all teleconference locations; and
- During the teleconference, a minimum of a quorum of members must participate from locations within the boundaries of the territory over which the local agency exercises jurisdiction.
In addition, the new executive order now provides that there is no requirement to provide any physical location from which the public may attend and participate. The Executive Order provides that if a local legislative body holds a teleconferenced meeting and allows members of the public to observe and address the meeting by telephone or some other electronic means, the body has satisfied the requirements to permit members of the public to attend the meeting and offer comment. The Agency must give notice of the means by which members of the public may observe the meeting and offer public comment when it gives notice of the meeting or post the agenda.
The Agency must have a procedure to receive and “swiftly respond to” requests for reasonable accommodation and must resolve any doubt about accommodation in favor of access. Agencies should ensure the means for public participation in teleconferenced meetings are accessible. The Agency must include its procedure for accommodations in each notice about the means by which members of the public may observe and comment at the teleconferenced meeting.
If the means for public participation changes or if the Agency posted a meeting notice or agenda before the issuance of the Executive Order without notice of the means for public participation, the Agency may give notice of those means, using the most rapid means of communication available, including posting on the Agency’s website.
These changes are in effect only while mandated or recommended social distancing measures are in effect. In addition, as in his first Executive Order addressing Brown Act changes, Governor Newsom urged local legislative bodies to use sound discretion and to adhere as closely as reasonably possible to the Brown Act and other local laws regarding the conduct of public meetings in order to provide the maximum public access to the body’s meetings.