A&A: Inadequate notification of Special District meetings

Q: I report for the local community newspaper. The local Special District (Fire) has its regular meeting on the second Tuesday of each month. For quite a while the agenda was emailed to all board members and to me (upon standing automatically renewed request) on the preceding Friday. Recently the District started posting the agenda and sending the mail on Saturday. I have objected that the notice for 72 hours does not include Saturday, Sunday and Holidays. For a Tuesday 7:30 pm meeting notice would have to be made by 5 pm on Friday.

A: While I certainly understand why you would take issue with a regular practice of the sending and posting of an agenda on a Saturday rather than a Friday — practically speaking, sending an agenda on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday means that the agenda will often not be seen by the media until the first business day that follows — there is nothing in the Brown Act that excludes weekends and holidays from the 72-hour requirement for posting and mailing agendas.  That said, to the extent there does not appear to be any legitimate reason for the fire district’s recent change of procedures, that change certainly seems to violate the spirit of the Brown Act, which is intended, among other things, to ensure that members of the public have advance notice of items to be discussed at meetings so that they may decide whether they wish to attend.

In addition, the California attorney general’s office has concluded that under the 72 hour notice requirement, agencies must post their notices in locations which are accessible 24 hours a day for the 72 hours prior to the meeting.  Thus, an agency may not post the notices in buildings that are locked for some portion of the 72 hours immediately prior to the meeting.  78 Ops. Cal. Atty Gen. 327 (1995).

While I suspect this is not the answer you were looking for, I hope this information is helpful to you.