REMOTE MEETINGS UNDER THE BROWN ACT
With the special relaxed remote meeting provisions under AB 361 coming to an end on February 28, 2023, many agencies are trying to figure how to pivot back to in-person meetings and accommodate remote participation of Board members.
REMOTE PARTICIPATION MUST COMPLY WITH THE BROWN ACT
With AB 361 ending, any remote participation in a Board or standing committee by a Board member must comply with the Brown Act. Why is this important? Failing to comply with the Brown Act may lead to civil or possible criminal liability, as well as nullifying actions a board may take.
The remote meeting requirements of the Brown Act as set forth in Government Code Section 54953(b) are:
- posting agendas at each teleconference location (i.e., each location from where a director was calling in);
- each teleconference location must be identified in the meeting agenda;
- each teleconference location must be accessible to the public; and
- during the teleconference, at least a quorum of the members of the legislative body must participate “from locations within the boundaries of the territory over which the local agency exercises jurisdiction.”
Compliance with these requirements will avoid possible violation of the Brown Act and any resulting adverse action or liability.
AB 2449 ALLOWS FOR REMOTE PARTICIPATION IN CERTAIN LIMITED CIRCUMSTANCES
Recently enacted AB 2449 allows for remote participation in certain limited circumstances.
If “just cause” or an “emergency circumstance” exists under that new law, a Board member can participate remotely in a Board or standing committee meeting without complying with the remote participation requirements under Government Code Section 54953(b) (see above).
“Just cause” means any of the following:
- A childcare or caregiving need of a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner that requires them to participate remotely
- A contagious illness that prevents a member from attending in person
- A need related to a physical or mental disability not otherwise accommodated
- Travel while on official business of the legislative body or another state or local agency
“Emergency circumstances” means a physical or family medical emergency that prevents a member from attending in person.
There are other technical requirements for AB 2449 compliance, including notice from the director utilizing AB 2449 to the public agency, the requirement for in-person attendance of at least a quorum of the governing body and technology requirements, that are beyond the scope of this blog. For these requirements we suggest reaching out to our Public Agency attorneys. Compliance with those requirements will avoid possible violation of the Brown Act and any resulting adverse action or liability.
Assuring that you are in compliance may seem overwhelming; however, our attorneys can help. They can provide information to ensure that necessary requirements are met, thereby avoiding any possible violations.
Please do not hesitate to contact our Public Agency Department for further information or assistance with these matters. Tom Bunn can be reached at email@example.com; Andy Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; and Jim Ciampa can be reached at email@example.com.