A&A: Recording publics comments in board minutes

Recording publics comments in board minutes

Q: To what extent must a public district board include in their monthly board of directors meeting minutes, which are available to the public, verbatim or synopsized comments made by the public at the prior month’s public board meeting? Can a district board elect not to include any or all such public comments from board minutes? Also, must letters addressed to the board from the public be included in the minutes of the public board?

A: The Brown Act, which governs the public’s right of access to public meetings of legislative bodies, and provides for things such as public comment, does not require legislative bodies of local agencies to keep minutes of meetings or to tape their meetings. And, even if they choose to do so, it does not address how detailed those minutes should be or whether it should include any or all public comments made at the meetings.

With respect to the letters addressed to the legislative bodies, the Brown Act makes such documents accessible under the California Public Records Act.  Section 54957.5 of the Brown Act provides, in part:

“(a) Notwithstanding Section 6255 or any other provisions of law, agendas of public meetings and any other writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at a public meeting of the body, are public
records under the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1), and shall be made available pursuant to Sections 6253 and 6256 without delay.  However, this section shall not include any writing exempt from public disclosure under Sections 6253.5, 6254, or 6254.7.

(b) Writing which are public records under subdivision (a) and which are distributed during a public meeting shall be made available for public inspection at the meeting if prepared by the local agency or a member of its legislative body, or after the meeting if prepared by some other person.”