A&A: No Video Record of Show-of-Hands Votes

Q: We are a very small grassroots committee to save the last low-income affordable housing in our area. Briefly, our local planning board has conducted its meetings without recording them thereby denying basic access to the public.

On July 5 with at least 200 in attendance, the Board voted 9-5-1 to send a proposal forward. People in front requested a roll call vote but the Chair asked for a quick vote by hand. As of today, Oct. 19 the minutes of the meeting have not been posted. That’s only part of it. It would be easier for me to send a sampling of emails describing the likely violations instead of trying to summarize all here.

A: Although the Brown Act doesn’t specifically address a roll call vote, in general, bodies subject to the Brown Act are required to make public the vote on all measures.  No secret ballots, whether preliminary or final, are permitted.  Government Code section 54953(c).  However, votes not to take action on subjects properly addressed in closed session may not be required to be made public.

Unfortunately, the Brown Act also does not govern posting of minutes.  I would suggest that you review the planning board’s bylaws or rules on the time frame to post meeting minutes as well as a roll call vote.

If you believe that the planning board violated the Brown Act, please review the First Amendment Coalition’s page about enforcing the Brown Act here.  It contains a lot of helpful information about what it means to enforce the Brown Act.

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.  No attorney-client relationship has been formed by way of this response.