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A&A: What rules must public meetings follow regarding agendas and notice?

Q:  I chair the Citizens’ Advisory Committee to the Water District Board. A member of the public attends and harasses the Board accusing them of not following precisely Robert’s Rules of Order at District noticed and agendized Board meetings. Is he correct?

A:  As you probably know, in California the Brown Act governs meetings of “legislative bodies,” which usually includes advisory committees such as the one you describe, and would certainly cover meetings of the Water District Board.

Meetings that are covered by the Brown Act must meet certain requirements pertaining to both the notice of meetings, and the meetings themselves.  For example, the body must post an agenda for the meeting which contains a brief description of each item of business to be transacted, and it must be provided at least 72 hours before the meeting, Gov’t Code § 54954.2(a), and the public must be given the opportunity to address the legislative body before discussion of items on the agenda Gov’t Code § 11125.7(a).

In addition, no action can be taken on items not listed on the agenda. Gov’t Code § 54954.2(b).  Of course, there are numerous other requirements contained in the Brown Act that must be followed.

However, the Brown Act is silent as to specific rules of order or other procedural considerations.  It may be that the board has adopted such rules, so you may want to check the bylaws to see if this is the case.

You can learn more about the Brown Act and its requirements under the Open Meetings tab.

Bryan Cave LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries.  In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.

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