On June 2nd, Governor Newsom’s office announced that Executive Order N-29-20 will remain in effect beyond the June 15th reopening plan, in an effort to help cities and local governments prepare for in-person public meetings and Brown Act compliance. The announcement allows local agencies to continue holding meetings remotely as needed while developing plans to return to in-person meetings and developing hybrid formats that maintain Brown Act compliance while also providing greater accessibility and transparency to the public.
First issued on March 17, 2020, Executive Order N-29-20 waives certain Brown Act teleconferencing requirements including the noticing of all teleconferencing locations and local agency provision of a physical location from which the public may observe the meeting and offer public comment. It allows local agencies to conduct meetings through electronic or telephonic means so long as the agency provides timely notice of the means by which members of the public can observe the meeting and offer public comment.
This decision was a response in part to a letter submitted on May 18th by the League of California Cities, the California Municipal Utilities Association, the Association of California School Administrators, the Association of California Water Agencies, and others, requesting a transition period for agencies to address the shift back to in-person meetings. That letter raised concerns about the ability for agencies to comply with Brown Act requirements and “keep any pandemic-era changes and provide sufficient notice to the public, honoring city obligations to prioritize access and transparency, along with the safety of the public.”
The Governor’s office’s response addressed these concerns directly, and promised future guidance which will be critical for public agencies to plan their return to in-person meetings or hybrid models.
“… the Governor recognizes the importance of an orderly return to the ordinary conduct of public meetings of state and local agencies and boards. To this end, the Governor’s office will work to provide notice to affected stakeholders in advance of rescission of this provision to provide state and local agencies and boards time necessary to meet statutory and logistical requirements.”
OMLO will continue to monitor these developments carefully. This article is for informational purposes only and only provides an overview of specific developments. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation. For actual legal advice and specifics pertaining to your governmental entity, please contact your OMLO attorney for assistance.