A&A: Model Letters

Model Letters

Q: I was wondering if, under “Model Letters” on the website, CFAC can provide a model letter in regards to a general Ralph M. Brown Act request of an agenda/agenda packet to an organization? I believe this would be helpful as it will communicate clearly to the receiver that they are legally mandated to do so. If this is request is being considered please have language that also addresses having it requested electronically if such a method is available as they do for the legislative body. I really am looking to have proper language that will provide documentation on my end when making requests to the receiver that their not sending this information would be out of compliance with the law to encourage them to do so in whatever format they can as well as stating my preference (usually electronically). However, I think it would be best for this to be standardized into a “Model Letter” so everyone can benefit.

A: Thank you for your suggestion that CFAC develop a model letter for requesting an agenda packet under the Brown Act.  I will forward this request to the folks at CFAC.
In the meantime, in terms of language that you might want to include to make clear that there is a legal obligation to provide the agenda packet, you might want to explicitly reference Government Code Section 54954.1 (reproduced below), which requires agencies to provide agenda packets upon request.  As you suggested, it also makes sense to ask for the documents electronically, if that is the way you would prefer to receive them, although I do not believe that the agency would be obligated to transmit electronic copies versus mailing hard copies.

Gov’t Code Section 54954.1: Any person may request that a copy of the agenda, or a copy of all the documents constituting the agenda packet, of any meeting of a legislative body be mailed to that person. Upon receipt of the written request, the legislative body or its designee shall cause the requested materials to be mailed at the time the agenda is posted pursuant to Section 54954.2 and 54956 or upon distribution to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body, whichever occurs first. Any request for mailed copies of agendas or agenda packets shall be valid for the calendar year in which it is filed, and must be renewed following January 1 of each year. The legislative body may establish a fee for mailing the agenda or agenda packet, which fee shall not exceed the cost of providing the service. Failure of the requesting person to receive the agenda or agenda packet pursuant to this section shall not constitute grounds for invalidation of the actions of the legislative body taken at the meeting for which the agenda or agenda packet was not received.