Van De Kamp, 030884 CAAGO, AGO 83-912

Docket Nº:AGO 83-912
Case Date:March 08, 1984
JOHN K. VAN DE KAMP Attorney General
CLAYTON P. ROCHE Deputy Attorney General
AGO 83-912
No. 83-912
California Attorney General Opinion
Office of the Attorney General State of California
March 8, 1984
         THE HONORABLE LLOYD G. CONNELLY, MEMBER OF THE CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY, has requested an opinion on the following question concerning the agenda item for the July 14, 1983, meeting of the State Board of Food and Agriculture pertaining to the Tuolumne River and the action taken by the board at such meeting to oppose the designation by Congress of the Tuolumne River as Wild and Scenic and the designation of the Tuolumne River Canyon as a Wilderness Area:          1. Did such agenda item comply with the "specific agenda" requirements of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, Government Code section 11120 et seq?          2. Was the resolution of the State Board of Food and Agriculture adopted at its July 14, 1983, meeting invalid, or are the provisions of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act directory and not mandatory?          CONCLUSIONS          1. The agenda item did not comply with the "specific agenda" requirements of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, Government Code section 11120 et seq.          2. The provisions of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act are directory, not mandatory, and accordingly the resolution in question was not invalid.          ANALYSIS          For its meeting on July 14, 1983, the State Board of Food and Agriculture ("Board") prepared in advance and distributed as required by law an "Agenda" which contained eleven items. The eighth item read as follows, followed by the name of an attorney and her law firm who apparently was to be heard on the item:
"8 Tuolumne River San Joaquin River Flood Control Problem "[Attorney's Name and Law Firm]"
         Thereafter, at its meeting on July 14, 1983, the Board adopted a resolution concerning the Tuolumne River which, after numerous "whereas" clauses, stated:
"RESOLVED, that the Board strongly opposes any Congressional action to designate the Tuolumne River as a Wild and Scenic River or to include the Tuolumne River Canyon in the National Wilderness Preservation System until the studies under the FERC preliminary permit are completed; and be it further "RESOLVED, that the President of this Board shall testify at Senate Hearings scheduled to commence on July 28, 1983 regarding the California Wilderness Legislation; and be it further "RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be immediately sent Senator Wilson, Senator Cranston, and members of the California Congressional Delegation."
         Although the Tuolumne River is a tributary of the San Joaquin River, it is seen that the resolution appears to have had nothing to do with the latter river, nor, as we understand it, flood control problems.          We are asked whether the eighth agenda item complied with the "specific agenda" requirements of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, Government Code section 11120 et seq.,1 and if not, whether that fact invalidated the Board's resolution.          1. The "Specific Agenda" Requirement of the Act.          The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act essentially requires that "state bodies" as defined therein hold their meetings open to the public except as otherwise provided in the act. (See generally, §§ 11121-11121.8, 11123.)          Section 11125 sets forth the basic notice requirements of the act. Subdivision (b) thereof provides the "specific agenda" requirements which are the focus of this opinion.2 It states:
"(b) The notice of a meeting of a body which is a state body as defined in Section 11121, 11121.2, 11121.5, or 11121.7, shall include a specific agenda for the meeting, which shall include the items of business to be transacted or discussed, and no item shall be added to the agenda subsequent to the provision of this notice."
         Thus it is seen that the act requires that the notice of a meeting contain a "specific agenda" which is to include all items of business to be transacted or discussed by the state body.          It is evident that the purpose of subdivision (b) is to provide advance information to interested members of the public concerning the state body's anticipated business in order that they may attend the meeting or take whatever other action they deem appropriate under the circumstances. As stated by the court in Carlson v. Pasadena Unified Sch. Dist. (1971) 18 Cal.App.3d 196, 199-200 with reference to the agenda requirements of the Education Code for school boards:3
". . . Decisions of local governing bodies of school districts may directly affect parents and teachers alike, as well as the students themselves. Thus, it is imperative that the agenda of the board's business be made public and in some detail so that the general public can ascertain the nature of the business. It is a well-known fact that public meetings of local governing bodies are sparsely attended by the public at large unless an issue vitally affecting their interests is to be heard. To alert the general public to such issues, adequate notice is a requisite. . . ." (First and Third emphases are added.)
         By the same token, where the law clearly provides that certain members of the public are entitled to be apprised of some or all of a state body's business in advance, "adequate notice is a requisite." To make notice meaningful, a state agency must set forth an agenda item "in some detail."          Furthermore, we note that section 11125 as originally enacted merely provided for the preparation and dissemination of an "agenda." (See Stats. 1967, ch. 1656, p. 4026.) In 1981, when the section was amended to its present form, the Legislature added the adjective "specific" to the agenda requirements. In Webster's Third New...

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