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Board of Supervisors Department

IX. Committees

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Rule 41. Board Committees/Assignments and Reporting Requirements

The Clerk shall maintain a list of Board Committees and Assignments. Annually, the incoming Chair shall review the list of Committees and Assignments and shall determine which members to appoint for the upcoming year. The list of appointments shall be adopted by the Board at their first meeting in January. The County Administrator, in coordination with the Clerk of the Board and the Chair, shall consider whether any committees are no longer necessary and if so, request staff to bring an item to disband the unnecessary committees to the full Board to consider.

All members who are assigned to special projects, committees, and separate boards or commissions shall provide regular reports to the full Board regarding their activity in connection with the special projects, committees, and separate boards or commissions. (Government Code §53234, et. seq.).

Committee members shall call Board committee meetings as needed provided they are held in conformance with the law. The County Administrator’s Office and County Counsel shall serve as support staff to all Standing and Ad Hoc Committees consisting of members of the Board of Supervisors. Other department heads and/or staff may also support as requested by the committee.

Rule 42. Standing Committees

Standing committees are those which have continuing jurisdiction over a particular subject matter or whose meeting schedule is fixed by resolution or action of the Board. Even if comprised of less than a quorum of the Board, a standing committee is subject to the Brown Act.

The Chair shall appoint members to each standing committee. Generally, appointments shall occur at the Board's first regular meeting in January. All standing committees shall be appointed for the calendar year, and the members shall continue as committee members until their successors have been appointed.

Rule 43. Ad-Hoc Committees

Ad-Hoc committees are not subject to the Brown Act. They may be formed by the Chair or by Board action, shall be solely composed of members of the Board, consist of less than a quorum of the Board, address a limited or single issue, for a limited time, and be dissolved once the specific task assigned is completed Ad-Hoc Committees are encouraged to conclude their business at the end of each calendar year. Ad-Hoc Committees should only be renewed if there is a need to continue it for a limited time. If there is a need for a long-term committee to meet, it shall be a Standing Committee subject to the Brown Act.

The Clerk will maintain a current index of Ad-Hoc Committees and their purpose. The best practice is to have no more than five (5) Ad Hoc Committees at any one time. The County Administrator shall make quarterly reports about Ad Hoc Committee activities in a written consent item to update the full Board.

Rule 44. Communications Outside of Public Hearings (Ex Parte Communications)

This rule provides clarity on the legal parameters surrounding Board members receipt of communications outside of a hearing. The parameters are different depending on the nature of the item before the Board. Some items are “legislative” in nature, like an ordinance amendment, and others are “quasi-adjudicatory”, like an appeal of a particular project.

Legislative Actions

In considering legislative actions such as ordinances, the Board sits in a legislative capacity – making and changing local law. Interested citizens and parties often seek to provide their comments on proposed laws or changes to existing laws to lawmakers outside of a public hearing. The Board member should fully disclose such communications received outside of the hearing. Any member receiving communications or information from a member of the public outside of or after the close of a public hearing on a legislative item should forward it to the Clerk of the Board. Communications received outside of a public hearing, including oral communications, should be disclosed publicly at the next opportunity, which is typically before the public hearing or the re-opening of a public hearing where applicable, and prior to final decision at an open meeting

Quasi-adjudicatory Actions

In making a decision in quasi-adjudicatory capacity (i.e. making a decision on a land use application such as a use permit, or an appeal thereof), the public communication limitations are more restrictive. If a member of the Board choses to receive ex parte communications on a proposed project or appeal outside of a public hearing, the Board member must fully and publicly disclose all communications received outside of the hearing in sufficient detail to allow the other side and the public to respond. The Board member choosing to receive ex parte communications must not refuse ex parte communications from one side if accepting from the other. Any Board member receiving ex parte communications, written or oral, outside of a public hearing on a quasi-adjudicatory item must forward it to the Clerk of the Board and disclose it publicly on the record at the first opportunity before opening the public hearing, or re-opened public hearing, depending on the timing of receipt of the ex parte communication

Final action must be delayed until the other side and the public have had an opportunity at a public hearing or at a re-opened public hearing to respond to the substance of the disclosed ex parte communication. For example, if the Board holds a public hearing and defers action to a later date, Board members cannot receive ex parte communications between the close of the hearing and the final decision. If Board members have ex parte communications, the public hearing must be re-opened to allow the other side and the public an opportunity to respond. The need to reopen the public hearing will not be triggered if communications directed to Board members are forwarded to the Clerk and not retained by the Board members

A Board member can refuse all ex parte communications.