Remote Meetings During Declared Emergencies

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Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-15-21 (the “Order”) suspending the application of the provisions of Assembly Bill 361 (Rivas) to the meetings of local agencies until October 1. The new Order makes clear that, until September 30, local agencies may conduct open and public remote meetings relying on the authority provided under prior Executive Orders (N-25-20N-29-20N-35-20) issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


However, starting October 1, remote meetings must transition from the authority of the Governor’s Executive Orders to that of State law. On and after October 1, all meetings of special district boards and other local agencies:


(*NOTE: N-15-21 also explicitly permits a local agency to meet pursuant to the procedures provided in AB 361 before October 1, so long as the meeting is conducted in accordance with the requirements of AB 361)


Following the Governor’s signing of AB 361, the Governor’s office contemplated immediately rescinding the remote public meeting authority provided under prior Executive Orders. Such action would have instantly impacted thousands of local agencies – potentially requiring them to cancel meetings or conduct in-person meetings or meetings pursuant to standard Brown Act teleconferencing requirements, notwithstanding the ongoing health directives related to the pandemic. Upon request, CSDA made its membership aware of this anticipated action through CSDA Advocacy News and COVID-19 online community posts.

Following fruitful discussions between CSDA, the Governor’s office, and other stakeholders on how to best assist local agencies to conduct meetings in an open and public manner, the Governor’s office modified its approach and issued N-15-21, suspending the provisions of AB 361 until October 1, providing for a clear transition.

CSDA applauds the Administration’s action to ensure a smooth and effective transition from the Governor’s Executive Orders to State law as enacted by AB 361. Moreover, CSDA appreciates the Administration’s time and effort to communicate proactively with CSDA and other stakeholders to facilitate a workable solution for special districts and other local agencies.

What it Means for Special Districts:

All local agencies should be aware that they may not conduct remote teleconference meetings pursuant to the authority in the Governor’s prior Executive Orders beyond September 30; after that date, all meetings subject to the Brown Act must comply with standard teleconference requirements (as they existed “pre-pandemic”) OR must comply with the newly enacted provisions of AB 361.

Accordingly, if a local agency seeks to continue conducting the meetings of its legislative body in a “remote” teleconference manner (i.e., via Zoom, Teams, etc.) after September 30, it must review AB 361’s provisions and adopt a resolution, in consultation with legal counsel, that permits the legislative body of the local agency to conduct remote teleconference meetings in the manner specified by AB 361.

Any local agency that seeks to continue conducting remote teleconference meetings after September 30, but has not taken action to transition to the provisions of AB 361, may hold remote teleconference meetings under the standard requirements found within the Brown Act (i.e., subdivision (b) of Government Code section 54953, with remote meeting locations identified in the meeting agenda, meeting notices and agendas posted at all teleconference locations, teleconference locations accessible to the public, etc.).

Special districts are strongly encouraged to swiftly begin preparations to ensure all Brown Act meetings and board actions taken via remote meetings after September 30 are done in a proper manner.
CSDA has created an AB 361 Implementation Guide to assist its members in their transition to AB 361's terms.