New requirements on public meetings, notices and records
(Calif.) Legislation signed late last week will require school districts to provide new notice to property owners about parcel taxes, and give new flexibility in posting public meeting information and responding to records requests.
AB 2257 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, will allow local government agencies–including school districts–to fulfill existing public meeting notification requirements using the Internet beginning in January, 2019.
The author noted in a statement earlier this summer, that the Ralph M. Brown Act was originally adopted in 1953 and needs to be updated to account for the many changes in technology. AB 2257, among other things, will better ensure that public meeting notices will be posted in a consistent, visible location on an agency’s homepage.
The bill makes clear that the online meeting notice must provide a prominent, direct link to the current agenda. Local officials must be careful that the agenda be posted in an open format that meets all of the following requirements:
- Retrievable, downloadable, indexable and electronically searchable by commonly used Internet search applications;
- Platform independent and machine readable; and
- Available to the public free of charge and without any restriction that would impede the reuse or redistribution of the agenda.
AB 2476 by Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, will require local government agencies–school districts included–to provide non-resident property owners notice about a coming parcel tax vote within 30 days of a measure being placed on the ballot.
The legislation, the author said in a statement, provides more fairness to the process where an out-of-area landowner can potentially face a significant tax increase in the case of an apartment building.
“One East Bay city has a parcel tax of $96 for single-family residential parcels and $72 per multi-family residential parcel,” he said. “If a building has, for example, 100 multi-family units that translates to a parcel tax of over seven thousand dollars. Property owners deserve to know whether they may be facing such a tax.”
The new notices must, among other things, have enough detail to allow each property owner to calculate the amount of the tax to be levied against the owner's property. The method and frequency for collecting the proposed parcel tax must be described and the duration of time the parcel tax will be imposed, as well as the date of the election.
Finally, AB 2853 by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, gives local government agencies more flexibility when it comes to responding to requests made under the California Public Records Act. Specifically this bill would allow an agency to simply post a response to a records request to its website.
Gatto explained in a statement that his bill seeks to close a loop-hole in the public records law that some private companies have exploited in recent years. He said that school districts especially have been targeted by companies that make record requests for detailed student demographic and academic information sometimes going back years–and then selling the information to data brokers who in turn use the information for marketing purposes.
Under existing law, government agencies are required to respond to public records requests within ten days and make a reasonable effort to otherwise make the information available “promptly.”
Gatto said his bill will allow local agencies the option of using their homepage as the distribution point, making the process more efficient and cost-effective.
“This bill would simply authorize a public agency to direct a requested to those online records, rather than physically retrieving the records and making disclosure determinations for each new request,” he said. “This solution would also be easier for most requesters, though perhaps not satisfactory to private businesses seeking someone to assemble marketable information.”New requirements on public meetings, notices and records :: SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet:
Bill Text - AB-709 Charter schools. - https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB709