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Frequently Asked Questions

Brown Act Changes

October 13, 2021

1. When do the new rules created by Assembly Bill 361 take effect?

The new law took effect Sept. 16. On Sept. 20, 2021, Governor Newsom issued an executive order that affected some provisions of the amended statute between Sept. 20 and 30. The amendments are now fully effective.

2. To whom do they apply?

The new law affects all local agencies covered by the Brown Act, as well as state agencies covered by the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act.

3. In an entity like College of the Canyons that has several groups that must be Brown Act-compliant, does the Board of Trustees resolution relate to all of the entities? Or, does each one, like ASG, Academic Senate, Classified Senate, COC Foundation, and the Measure E Oversight Committee need to take their own actions?

Each body must make its own findings.

4. Can a meeting be held where trustees are present in-person, and others participate virtually via Zoom?

Not under the new, amended teleconference rules. In order to use the new, amended teleconference rules under the Brown Act, the body must make a finding that there is a proclaimed state of emergency and that meeting in person puts health or safety at risk. If meeting in person is not a health and safety risk, then we cannot use the new, amended teleconference rules and instead must use the old teleconference rules.

If we proceed under the old teleconference rules, the following requirements apply:

  • The agenda must be posted at all teleconference locations;
  • Each teleconference location must be identified in the notice and agenda of the meeting or proceeding;
  • Each teleconference location must be open and accessible to the public;
  • During the teleconference, a minimum of a quorum of members must participate from locations within the boundaries of the territory over which the local agency exercises jurisdiction;
  • The agenda must provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the legislative body directly at each teleconference location;
  • All votes taken during a teleconferenced meeting must be by roll call; and
  • The meeting must be conducted in a manner that protects the statutory and constitutional rights of the parties or the public appearing before the legislative body.

5. If some trustees attend in person, does the location have to be listed on the agenda?

See question 4. If the Board of Trustees is not meeting under the new, amended teleconference rules, the following requirements apply:

  • The agenda must be posted at all teleconference locations;
  • Each teleconference location must be identified in the notice and agenda of the meeting or proceeding;
  • Each teleconference location must be open and accessible to the public;
  • During the teleconference, a minimum of a quorum of members must participate from locations within the boundaries of the territory over which the local agency exercises jurisdiction;
  • The agenda must provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the legislative body directly at each teleconference location;
  • All votes taken during a teleconferenced meeting must be by roll call;
  • The meeting must be conducted in a manner that protects the statutory and constitutional rights of the parties or the public appearing before the legislative body.

6. Do individuals who wish to address the board still need to submit comments 60 minutes (1 hour) prior to the meeting starting? If not, what is the process?

We now have a new process to take public comment in real time, so individuals do not need to submit comments before the meeting starts. If you are commenting on a matter not on the agenda, you may comment during the public comment item on the agenda. If you are commenting on a specific item on the agenda, the board president will call for public comments after the administration has made its presentation and recommendation. After public comment, one of the trustees will make a motion and the board will discuss the motion.

7. If comments are submitted in writing, are they read by a staff member or provided to the board members?

Comments submitted in writing will no longer be read by district staff during the meeting. Written comments will be sent to the trustees.

8. When may I offer my public comment?

If you are commenting on a matter not on the agenda, you may comment during the public comment item on the agenda. If you are commenting on a specific item on the agenda, the board president will call for public comments after the administration has made its presentation and recommendation. After public comment, one of the trustees will make a motion and the board will discuss the motion.

9. Is social distancing required by county or state health guidelines?

At this time, neither the Los Angeles County nor California public health departments require that social distancing be maintained in indoor settings.

10. Why is social distancing included in the new law as one of the reasons the Board of Trustees can continue meetings online?

The new laws are written for multiple situations and provide local agencies with the flexibility needed to adapt to changing conditions. If public health agencies again require social distancing, due to the COVID-19 pandemic or for any other reason, local agencies can adapt their meetings accordingly because of the flexibility provided in the new law.

11. How often does the board need to revisit the approval of the resolution?

Under the requirements of the new law, the Board of Trustees must make findings every 30 days to continue to meet virtually. It does this by adopting a resolution. If more than 30 days have passed since the last findings, the board must adopt the initial findings again.

12. How long is AB 361 in place?

The current version of the statute is in effect until Jan. 1, 2024. On Jan. 1, 2024, a new version of the statute will take effect, unless it is amended or repealed before then.

13. If meetings are in person, can the district screen all attendees and require negative COVID-19 tests or proof vaccination?

Yes. The board passed a resolution at its Aug. 11 meeting requiring all employees, students, and visitors to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test when coming to campus. So, when we return to in-person meetings, we will screen for symptoms and require proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test.