Brown Act Primer: Public bodies subject to the Act

Brown Act PrimerII. What public bodies are subject to the Act?

Public bodies subject to the Act include:

A. The governing body of a local agency or any other local body created by state of federal law. Thus, entities such as city councils, boards of supervisors, school boards,redevelopment agencies, and air pollution control boards are covered. The judiciary is not covered. State agencies and the legislature are covered by separate, similar acts.

B. A commission, committee, board, or other body of a local agency created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body.

  • Advisory committees composed solely of the members of the legislative body that constitute less than a quorum and that have neither a continuing scope of business nor a schedule set by the legislative body are not covered by the Act.
  • Standing committees are included if they have schedules fixed by official action irrespective of their composition.

For example, a standing committee of a city council, such as a budget committee or a rules committee, would be subject to the Brown Act. However, an ad hoc committee consisting of three out of seven council members appointed to investigate a claim of fraud would not be. (The Brown Act would apply if a citizen or someone else who was not a member of the council was appointed to the committee.)

In addition, while a standing committee that meets pursuant to a regular schedule is always subject to the Brown Act, even standing committees that meet infrequently or sporadically are subject to the Brown Act if they consist of more than a quorum, or if they have ongoing authority to address issues with the subject matter jurisdiction of parent body.

C. A board, commission, committee or other multimember body that governs a private entity that either:

  1. Is created by that entity to exercise authority its behalf; or
  2. Receives funds from a local agency and has on its governing board a member of that agency’s legislative body who is appointed by the legislative body.

For example: (1) If a city creates a special local assessment district, collects assessments from local property owners, and provides by ordinance that the programs paid for with those funds will be governed by a non-profit association, the non-profit corporation set up to govern those programs will be subject to the Act;4 Gov’t Code § 54952(c)(1). and (2) if a private, non-profit corporation receives funds from a city, and the corporation has a council member on its board who has been appointed by the city council, the corporation will be subject to the Act.

D. The governing board of private corporation to which a public hospital district has turned over control of a hospital.

E. State agencies are not covered by the Brown Act, but are subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act, which is very similar to the Brown Act. The courts and court administrative offices are exempt from state open meeting laws.

NOTES
1 Gov’t Code § 54952(a).
2 Gov’t Code § 54952(b).
3 79 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 69 (1996).
4 Gov’t Code § 54952(c)(1).
5 This example comes from a case called Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District II Business Improvement Dist., 87 Cal. App. 4th 862 (2001). In addition, under a court decision in a case called Frazer v. Dixon Unified School Dist., 18 Cal. App. 4th 781 (1993), a board, committee or commission created by an individual government official, rather than a local governmental agency, also is subject to the Brown Act, if the local agency delegated to the individual official the authority to create the committee or other body.
6 Gov’t Code § 54952(d).

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1. Gov’t Code § 54952(a)
2. Gov’t Code § 54952(a)
3. 79 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 69 (1996).
4 Gov’t Code § 54952(c)(1).
5. This example comes from a case called Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District II Business Improvement Dist., 87 Cal. App. 4th 862 (2001). In addition, under a court decision in a case called Frazer v. Dixon Unified School Dist., 18 Cal. App. 4th 781 (1993), a board, committee or commission created by an individual government official, rather than a local governmental agency, also is subject to the Brown Act, if the local agency delegated to the individual official the authority to create the committee or other body.
6. Gov’t Code § 54952(d).