Governor Issues New Order on Public Meetings

Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-29-20 which supersedes Executive Order N-25-20 as such order relates to the Brown Act.

Executive Order N-29-20 (the order can be found here) further responds to concerns of public health officials and public agencies that observance of public meeting laws could accelerate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The new Executive Order no longer requires public agencies subject to the Brown Act to have one physical location open for the public to observe and address the meeting. Agencies are now permitted to allow the public to observe and address the meeting telephonically or otherwise electronically.

The following are key provisions of the Executive Order with the substantive changes from the prior order identified in bold below:

  • Allows public agencies to hold public meetings via teleconference and to make the meeting accessible electronically or telephonically to all member of the public seeking to attend and address the Board.
  • The requirement that each teleconference location be publicly accessible is suspended.
  • The requirement to post agendas at all teleconference locations and notice each location where the member is calling in from is suspended.
  • The requirement that at least a quorum be present in the boundaries of the jurisdiction is suspended.
  • Notice must still be given 72 hours in advance for regular meeting and 24 hours in advance for special meetings.
  • Local Agencies may hold meetings via teleconferencing and allow the public to observe and address the meeting telephonically or otherwise electronically. (NOTE: the prior order required at least one physical location be open for the public to observe and address the meeting. A physical location for observing the meeting is no longer required.)
  • If meeting is held telephonically or otherwise electronically, agencies must implement a procedure for receiving and swiftly resolving requests for reasonable modification or accommodations from individuals with disabilities, consistent with the ADA. The procedure must be advertised each time notice of the meeting is given.

Agencies are encouraged to use sound discretion and to make reasonable efforts to adhere to the Brown Act as closely as possible.