CA Sunshine Ordinances: Vallejo

Vallejo’s Sunshine Ordinance was adopted in 1999.

2.08.010 Findings and purpose.
The city council finds and declares:

A. A government’s duty is to serve the public and in reaching its decisions to accommodate those who wish to obtain information about or participate in the process.

B. The city council, the housing authority, the redevelopment agency, and all special districts, agencies, and authorities of which the city council is the governing body exist to conduct the people’s business. This chapter is intended to ensure that their deliberations and the city’s operations are open to the public to the full extent permitted by law.

C. This chapter is intended in part to clarify and supplement the Ralph M. Brown Act, Govt. Code, Sections 54950, et seq., and the California Public Records Act, Govt. Code, Sections 6250, et. seq. to assure that the people of the city of Vallejo can be fully informed and thereby retain control over the instruments of local government in their city.
(Ord. 1426 N.C. (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.020 Citation of Chapter.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Vallejo Sunshine Ordinance. (Ord. 1426 N.C. (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.030 Definitions.
Words or phrases in this chapter shall bear the definitions set forth in the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, unless otherwise specified herein. Whenever in this chapter the following words or phrases are used, they shall be:

A. “Agenda” means the agenda of the body covered by this chapter which has scheduled a public meeting. The agenda must meet the requirements of Govt. Code,
Section 54954.2 and Sections 2.02.230 and 2.02.240. For closed sessions, the agenda must meet the requirements set forth in Govt. Code, Section 54954.5.

B. “Agenda and related materials” means the agenda, all reports and other written material prepared and forwarded by staff to any body covered by this chapter, and other materials forwarded to the body by the deadline for posting agendas, which provide background information or recommendations concerning the subject matter of any agenda item for any meeting of that body covered by this chapter.

C. “City” means the city of Vallejo.

D. “On-line” means accessible via computer or similar device without charge to the user.

E. “Agenda subscriber” means any individual or group of persons who request, on a regular basis, the receipt of an agenda or an agenda and related materials.

F. The “policy bodies” covered by this chapter are: the city council, the housing authority, the redevelopment agency, and all special districts, agencies, and authorities of which the city council is the governing body.

G. “Business day” shall mean any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday and during those regular hours of such days established for the operation of the city department or office, or the unit, section or bureau thereof, having possession, custody, and control of the public records sought to be inspected or obtained under this chapter.

(Ord. 1450 N.C.(2d) § 1 (part), 2000: Ord. 1426 N.C. (2d) § l (part), 1999.)

2.08.040 Agenda requirements; regular meetings.

A. The agenda shall contain a brief, general description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed during the meeting and shall avoid the use of undefined abbreviations or acronyms not in common usage and terms whose meaning is not known to the general public. It may refer to explanatory documents, including, but not limited to, correspondence or reports, in the related material. The description is adequate if it is sufficiently clear and specific to alert a person of average intelligence and education whose interests are affected by the item that he or she may have reason to attend the meeting or seek more information about the item.

B. The agenda of bodies covered by this chapter shall be posted in the following locations: (1) city clerk’s office, (2) on-line, and (3) an exterior bulletin board outside City Hall which is accessible twenty-four hours a day.
(Ord. 1489 N.C.(2d) § 1, 2002: Ord. 1450 N.C.(2d) § 2 (part), 2000: Ord. 1426 N.C. (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.050 Agendas and related materials; public records.
Staff material, consisting of agendas, staff reports and other material prepared and forwarded by staff which provide background information and recommendations regarding agenda items, when distributed to all or to a majority of the members of a policy body in connection with a matter which is subject to discussion or consideration at a public meeting shall be made available to the public upon request. (Ord. 1426 N.C. (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.060 Agenda disclosures; closed sessions.

A. In addition to the brief general description of items to be discussed or acted upon in open and public session, the permissive provisions of Govt. Code, Section 54954.5 pertaining to closed session item descriptions are mandatory under this chapter with respect to closed sessions.

B. Any action taken without proper agenda disclosure pursuant to this section is subject to invalidation to the same extent as if the policy body were subject to the provisions of Govt. Code, Section 54960.1.
(Ord. 1426 N.C. (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.070 Statement of reasons for closed sessions.
Prior to any closed session, a policy body shall state in open session the general reason or reasons for the closed session, and must cite and explain the statutory authority, including the specific section and subdivision, or other legal authority under which the session is being closed. In the closed session, the body shall consider only those matters covered in its statement. In the case of regular or special meetings, the statement shall also be made in the form of the agenda disclosures and specifications required by Section 2.08.060. In the case of adjourned and continued meetings, the statement shall also be made with the same disclosures and specifications required by Section 2.08.060, as part of the notice provided for the meeting. In the case of an item added to the agenda as a matter of urgency, the statement shall be made in open session prior to the determination of urgency and with the same disclosures and specifications as if the item had been included in the agenda pursuant to Section 2.08.060. Nothing in this section shall require or authorize a disclosure of information which is prohibited by state or federal law. (Ord. 1426 N.C. (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)
2.08.080 Disclosure of closed session discussions and actions.

A. Settlement of Litigation. Any written settlement agreement and any documents attached to or referenced in the settlement agreement shall be made publicly available at least seventy-two hours before the meeting of the policy body at which the settlement is to be approved to the extent that the settlement would commit the city or a department thereof to adopting, modifying, or discontinuing an existing policy, practice or program or otherwise acting other than to pay an amount of money of fifty-thousand dollars or less.

B. Collective Bargaining Agreements. Any collectively bargained labor agreement with the representative of a city employee organization shall be made publicly available at least seventy-two hours before the meeting of the policy body to which the agreement is to be reported or submitted for approval.
(Ord. 1426 NC. (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.090 Nonexempt Public Records.
The following policies shall govern specific types of documents and information:

A. Opinion or Communication Regarding Certain Laws. Any opinion or communication in writing to or from a city agency or city officer or employee regarding the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Political Reform Act of 1974, Govt. Code, Sections 81000, et seq., the California Public Records Act, or this chapter shall be subject to disclosure, and made available to the public for inspection or copying upon request.

B. Budgets and Other Financial Information. Proposed or adopted budgets for the city or any of its departments, programs, projects or other categories, and all bills, claims, invoices, vouchers and other records of payment obligations as well as records of actual disbursement showing the amount paid, the payee and the purpose for which the payment is made, other than payments for social, forensic or other services whose records are confidential by law, shall not be considered exempt from disclosure under any circumstances. Notes or memoranda, preliminary in nature, whether handwritten or otherwise recorded, shall be excluded with respect to these documents.

C. Litigation Material. When litigation is finally adjudicated or otherwise settled, records of all communications between the city and the adverse party shall be subject to disclosure, including the text and terms of any settlement. Legal counsel for the city shall not solicit any settlement term which would restrict public disclosure after settlement of all terms and communication records between the parties. All such records shall be released as soon as reasonably possible as determined by counsel handling the litigation.

(Ord. 1426 NC. (2d) § 1 (part), (1999.)

2.08.100 Immediacy of response.

A. Notwithstanding the ten-day period for response to a request permitted in Government Code, Section 6253(c), a written request for an identifiable, nonexempt public record which is received by a departmental director or designee shall be satisfied no later than the close of business on the day of receipt of such request if the request is received before noon, or by the close of business on the business day following receipt of the request if the request is made during the afternoon. This deadline shall apply only if the words “Immediate Disclosure Request” are written across the top of the request and the envelope in which the request is transmitted. The statutory deadlines are appropriate for more extensive or demanding requests, but shall not be used to delay fulfilling a simple, routine or otherwise readily answerable request.

B If the voluminous nature of the information requested, its location in a remote storage facility, the need to redact, delete, or segregate information that is exempt from disclosure by law, or the need to consult with legal counsel or another interested department warrants an extension of the ten days as provided in Government Code Section 6253(c), the requester shall be notified within three business days of the request.

C. The person seeking the record need not state his or her reason for making the request or the use to which the information will be put. Where a record being requested contains information most of which us exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act and this chapter, the city attorney or custodian of the record may inform the requester of the nature and extent of the nonexempt information and inquire as to the requester’s purpose for seeking it, in order to suggest alternative sources for the information which may involve less redaction or to otherwise prepare a response to the request.
(Ord 1426 N C (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.110 Withholding kept to minimum.
No record shall be withheld from disclosure in its entirety unless all information contained in it is exempt from disclosure under express provisions of the California Public Records Act or some other statute. Information that is exempt from disclosure shall be redacted, deleted or otherwise segregated in order that the nonexempt portion of the requested record may be released, and keyed by footnote or other reference to the appropriate justification for withholding required by Section 2.08.120. This work shall be done personally by the attorney or other staff member conducting the exemption review. If that employee’s work in redaction exceeds one hour, the requester may be required to pay that extra increment of time at the pro-rata hourly salary rate of the employee. Staff time used to locate or collect records for review or copying shall nor be included as chargeable. (Ord. 1426 NC. (2d) § 1 (part). 1999.)

2.08.120 Justification for withholding records.
Any refusal to disclose a public record shall be justified. in writing, when in the opinion of the city attorney such justification is appropriate or desirable, as follows:

A. A withholding under a permissive exemption set forth in the California Public Records Act or in this chapter shall cite the legal authority and, where the exemption is based on the public interest, explain in practical terms how the public interest would be harmed by disclosure.

B. A withholding on the basis that disclosure is prohibited by law shall cite the statutory authority in the California Public Records Act or elsewhere.

C. A withholding on the basis that disclosure would incur civil or criminal liability shall cite any statutory or case law supporting that position.
(Ord. 1426 NC. (2.d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.130 City attorney’s function.
A. The city attorney may publish legal opinions in response to a request from any person as to whether a record is public. All communications with the city attorney’s office with regard to this ordinance, including petitions, requests for opinions, and opinions rendered shall be public records.

B. The city attorney may defend the city, or a city employee in litigation under this chapter that is actually filed in court to any extent required by the City Charter or state law.

(Ord. 1426 N C. (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.140 Willful failure shall be official misconduct; punishment.
The knowing, willful and deliberate failure of any elected official, departmental director, or other managerial city employee to discharge any duties imposed by the Ralph M. Brown Act, the California Public Records Act, or this chapter shall be deemed official misconduct. An elected official found guilty of such misconduct shall be removed from office in the manner prescribed by law. Any departmental director, or other managerial city employee found guilty of such misconduct shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, in the manner prescribed by law. (Ord. 1426 N C (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.150 Enforcement provisions.

A. Any person may institute proceedings for injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or for a writ of mandate in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce his or her right to inspect or to receive a copy of any public records or class of public records under this chapter, or to enforce his or her right to attend any meeting required under this chapter to be open, or to compel such meeting to be open.

B. A court shall award costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees to the plaintiff who is the prevailing party in an action brought to enforce this chapter.

C. If a court finds that an action filed pursuant to this section is frivolous, the defendant city or policy body covered by this chapter will assert its right to be paid reasonable court costs and attorneys’ fees.

(Ord 1426 N C’ (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

2.08.160 Review of ordinance on annual basic.
During November of each year, beginning in November 2000, the city council shall review this ordinance to determine its effectiveness and the necessity for its continued operation. The city manager shall report to the city council on the operation of this chapter, and make any recommendations deemed appropriate, including proposals to amend the chapter. Upon conclusion of its review, the city council may take any action it deems appropriate concerning this chapter. Nothing herein shall preclude the council from taking action on the chapter at times other than upon conclusion of the annual review. (Ord 1426 N.C. (2d) § 1 (part), 1999.)

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