Yesterday, on a mostly partisan vote, the Senate approved a measure sponsored by CNPA to restore the public's ability to enforce the Brown Act. SB 1003 by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) was passed on a 23-12 vote.
As currently written, SB 1003 would amend the Brown Act to allow a court to order declaratory relief based on the past actions of a legislative body. The need for the bill arose after an appellate court decided in McKee v Tulare County Bd. of Supervisors that existing law does not provide a remedy for past violations by a local agency.
CNPA and co-sponsor Californians Aware are currently in negotiations with the League of California Cities, Rural Counties and other opponents to the bill on language that would establish a framework for resolving disputes over violations of the law outside of the judicial process.
After an interested person submits a letter to an agency setting forth the alleged violations, the proposed process would allow an agency to issue a commitment letter stating that it would cease its conduct that gave rise to the allegation. If the agency continues the conduct after the issuance of the letter, the interested person would be able to file an action for declaratory relief or a writ to enforce the law for the past violation.
SB 1003 will next be heard by the Assembly Local Government Committee sometime in the next few weeks.