Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-15-21 clarifying that cities may continue to meet remotely in accordance with procedures established by prior Executive Orders until September 30 or cities may begin taking advantage of newly enacted AB 361.
Beginning in March 2020, Governor Newsom issued a series of Executive Orders aimed at containing the novel coronavirus. Among these were several Executive Orders—N-25-20, N-29-20, N-35-20 (collectively, the Brown Act Orders)—that waived requirements in the Brown Act expressly or impliedly requiring the physical presence of city councilmembers, staff, or the public at local agency meetings. Specifically, the orders:
- waived the requirement that local agencies provide notice of each teleconference location from which a member of the legislative body will be participating in a public meeting,
- waived the requirement that each teleconference location be accessible to the public,
- waived the requirement that members of the public be able to address the legislative body at each teleconference conference location,
- waived the requirement that local agencies post agendas at all teleconference locations, and,
- waived the requirement that at least a quorum of the members of the local body participate from locations within the boundaries of the territory over which the local body exercises jurisdiction.
On June 11, 2021, the Governor issued Executive Order N-08-21, to begin winding down some of the prior measures that were adopted to respond to COVID-19. Notably, N-08-21 rescinds the Brown Act Orders, effective September 30, 2021.
On September 16, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Member Robert Rivas’ (D-Salinas) Assembly Bill 361, which allows cities to continue to meet remotely during proclaimed states of emergency under modified Brown Act requirements that are similar but not identical to the rules and procedures established by the Brown Act Orders.
The pending expiration of the Brown Act Orders and the enactment of AB 361 created some ambiguity as to whether cities are required to comply with the requirements of the Brown Act Orders or the requirements of AB 361. To provide clarification, the Governor issued Executive Order N-15-21, explaining that cities may continue to hold meetings in accordance with the Brown Act Orders until September 30, or they may hold meetings in accordance with the requirements of AB 361.
Cities may continue conducting remote meetings as they have been throughout the pandemic until September 30. Cities that wish to continue beyond September 30 should review AB 361 and consult with their city attorneys as to how their meetings may need to adapt in order to comply with AB 361 beginning October 1.