With the city of wildomar burying the public meetings for “by district” discussion behind regularly scheduled city council meetings, the lack of applicants for a Planning Commission and Measure Z Oversight Committee openings, talk of how overwhelmed city staff is with “Public Records Request” for which they provide no evidence, now is the time for citizens to act.
This initiative should be called the Wildomar Open Governance Act
(These initiatives are sometimes know as Sunshine Ordinances or Open Government Ordinances).
In numerous cases they are passed by city councils to appease citizens, the problem being they can also be changed by city councils whenever they wish. If enacted by an initiative on the local ballot they can only be changed by the people.
An example of a city council changing things when they choose can be found at http://calaware.org/awareness-area-government/milpitas-backslides-on-transparency-commitment
The purpose of this initiative is to enact voter approved local legislation to improve transparency in local government and make it easier for people to access city government so that they may be more informed about what their city is doing and so that they may be involved in a more meaningful and knowledgeable way.
The initiative should include the following:
A. Video and Audio Recording of Meetings
1. Each legislative body shall schedule regular and special meetings in a public building accessible with live video streaming capability.
2. The City Council and Planning Commission shall video record each meeting. All other commissions and committees shall audio record each meeting.
3. All meetings of the City Council and Planning Commission shall be live streamed and within one week (5 working days) of the meeting video shall be made available by webcast on the City’s website. Audio recordings should also be made available on the City’s website
4. All recordings shall remain on the City’s website for a period of at least ten (10) years from the meeting.
B. Notice and agenda requirements: Special meetings.
Special meetings of any local body may be called at any time by the presiding officer thereof or by a majority of the members thereof. All local bodies calling a special meeting shall provide notice by:
1. Posting a copy of the agenda in a location freely accessible to the public at least seventy-two (72) hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) before the time of the meeting set forth in the agenda.
2. Delivering a copy of the agenda and copies of all agenda-related material to each member of the local body, to each local newspaper of general circulation, to each agenda subscriber, and to each media organization which has previously requested notice in writing, so that a copy of the agenda is received at least seventy-two (72) hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) before the time of the meeting set forth in the agenda. Receipt of the agenda shall be presumed upon reasonable proof that delivery was made
3. In addition to the noticing requirements of this section, post a copy of the agenda for any special meeting on-line at the local body’s website at least seventy-two (72) hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) before the time of the meeting set forth in the agenda. Failure to timely post a copy of the agenda online because of software or hardware impairment, shall not constitute a defect in the notice for a special meeting if the local body complies with all other posting and noticing requirements.
C. Notice and agenda requirements: Regular meetings
Ten Day Advance Notice Requirement for Regular Meetings of the City Council, Planning Commission, Advisory Committees and Standing Committees shall provide notice before any regular meeting by:
1. Posting a copy of the agenda in a location freely accessible to the public twenty-four (24) hours a day no later than ten (10) days before the date of the meeting.
2. Delivering a copy of the agenda and copies of all agenda-related material to each member of the local body, to each local newspaper of general circulation, to each agenda subscriber, and to each media organization which has previously requested notice in writing, so that a copy of the agenda is received at least ten days (10) before the time of the meeting set forth in the agenda. Receipt of the agenda shall be presumed upon reasonable proof that delivery was made.
3. In addition to the noticing requirements of this section, post a copy of the agenda for any special meeting on-line at the local body’s website at ten days (10) before the time of the meeting set forth in the agenda. Failure to timely post a copy of the agenda online because of software or hardware impairment, shall not constitute a defect in the notice for a special meeting if the local body complies with all other posting and noticing requirements.
D. Meeting Agendas
1. When items are withdrawn from the agenda of a regular or special meeting after posting of the agenda but before the meeting, all paper and electronically posted copies of the agenda shall be amended to state the reason for withdrawal.
2. Supplemental Agenda and Related Materials Requirements for Regular Meetings of the City Council may amend or supplement a posted agenda or agenda-related materials no later than seventy-two (72) hours before a regular meeting and only for the following reasons or under the following conditions:
a. To add an item due to an emergency or urgency, provided the local body makes the same findings before taking action
b. To delete or withdraw any item from a posted agenda; however, nothing herein shall limit the ability of a local body to delete or withdraw an item during the meeting as long as the local body permits members of the public to address the deleted or withdrawn item.
3. Excuse of Sunshine Notice Requirements. If an item appears on an agenda but the local body fails to meet any of the additional notice requirements under this section, the local body may take action only if:
a. The minimum notice requirements of the Brown Act have been met; and,
b. The local body, by a two-thirds vote of those members present, adopts a motion determining that, upon consideration of the facts and circumstances, it was not reasonably possible to meet the additional notice requirements under this section and any one of the following exists:
1. The need to take immediate action on the item is required to avoid a substantial adverse impact that would occur if the action were deferred to a subsequent special or regular meeting;
2. There is a need to take immediate action which relates to federal or state legislation or the local body’s eligibility for any grant or gift; or,
3. The item relates to a purely ceremonial or commendatory action.
E. Neighborhood Notices
A. Any notice that is mailed, posted or published by a City department, board, agency or commission to inform those residing within a 2,500 foot radius of a proposed or planned activity that might impact their property or neighborhood shall be brief, concise and written in plain, easily understood language. The notice shall also state the name and address of the person or persons to whom written comments concerning the notice should be submitted.
B. If mailed notices are returned undelivered, the person designated to receive written comments shall investigate the reason the notice was not delivered and make additional attempts via telephone or email to contact any resident not notified.
Public Notices in General
1. Public notices shall be written in easily understood language without undefined abbreviations or acronyms and give a full description of the subject, applicable regulations, significant consequences of taking action or non-action, when and where the subject will be considered, opportunities for public comment, and where to obtain further information.
F. Mayor’s State of the City Address
If the Mayor delivers a State of the City address, it shall be given in a disabled accessible venue with, audio and video-streaming and transmission capabilities. The event shall be noticed, recorded, free to the public and open to all
G. Public Records: Access Requests and Responses
1. The City shall keep a log of all submitted public records access requests and the responses thereto showing, as a minimum, the date of the request, a brief summary of the request, the date the response was completed and the records were available, an indicator to denote if no records were available, the name of the requester (when furnished), their email address (when furnished) and the staff member(s) responsible for processing the request. Submissions which provide no method of response must still be logged-in but otherwise may be ignored
2. All requests received via any format where an email address was provided shall be sent a return email acknowledgment of the receipt within one (1) business day after the request is received. Reasonable effort shall be exerted to promptly complete requests
3. The City Clerk shall publish in the Consolidated Annual Financial Report (CAFR) the number of public records requests received during that fiscal year, the number of requests where documents were made available, the number of requests where no documents were made available, and the number of requests completed
4. Any withholding of information shall be justified, in writing, within two (2) business days of the day of the request. All withholdings shall cite the justifying legal authority and, where that authority is an exemption from disclosure under the California Public Records Act, the public interest in favor of not disclosing. A withholding on the basis that disclosure would incur civil or criminal liability shall cite any statutory or case law supporting that position.
H. Public Records: Copying Fees
1. No fee shall be charged for copies of documents routinely produced in multiple copies. e.g. Meeting Agendas and packets.
2. Reproduction charges for documents copied to the order of the requester shall not exceed ten (10) cents per page copy charges. If the direct cost of duplication, as defined by case law interpretation of the California Public Records Act, is more than ten cents per page the City shall provide documentation of that.
I. Public Records: City Business
1. Documents which constitute active city agreements/contracts entered into prior to the effective date of the act which exceed $5,000 shall be digitized in response to a public records request or as time is available and published via the internet as the electronic documents become available.
All documents which constitute new agreements/contracts with totals exceeding $5,000 shall be digitized, processed with optical character recognition and published via the internet to facilitate document retrieval.
2. All bills, claims, invoices, vouchers or other records of payment obligations, as well as records of actual disbursements showing the amount paid, the payee and the purpose for which payment is made shall be public records and available to the public.
THIS INITIATIVE MAY NOT BE AMENDED EXCEPT UPON VOTER APPROVAL
This is a work in progress, many Sunshine Ordinances contain some/or all of the following: