A&A: Continuance of Public Hearings

Continuance of Public Hearings

Q: We will be heading to City Council to complain about the unfair treatment of our case tonight.

Our group and 200+ residents have been battling a pending project in our area for about 2 years. We are frustrated by the City’s actions regarding 7 consecutive continuances they’ve approved for the City Council hearing. We’ve checked the City Council bylaws and the County supervisor’s bylaws but can not seem to find anything limiting the number of continuances for public hearings. The applicant for the project has written 2 letters to City Council requesting Council to approve continuance based on: lack of funding for project and large public opposition. The residents and our group prepare diligently and put in many hours, take time off of work, arrange baby sitters for kids, etc, but all of these efforts are washed away and the City continues to drain our resources and our motivation to keep fighting.

A: The primary piece of legislation affecting the public’s rights with respect to meetings of local (ie, city or county) legislative bodies is the Brown Act.  Unfortunately, nothing in the Brown Act prohibits the City from continuing the hearing on your project.  The applicable bylaws would likely be the only source of authority on this issue, but it sounds as though you have already searched the County Supervisor’s bylaws, to no avail.

That said, I certainly appreciate that these continuances are hampering one of the goals of the Brown Act —  which is intended, among other things, to ensure that members of the public can make plans to attend public meetings addressing issues of importance to them.  If you have not already done so, you might try writing a letter explaining how these continuances are making it difficult for members of your group and other residents to make their voices with regard to this obviously controversial proposal.  In addition, you might try a letter to the editor.