California Public Policy

CAL. GOV. CODE § 11120 : California Code – Section 11120
Search CAL. GOV. CODE § 11120 : California Code – Section 11120

It is the public policy of this state that public agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and the proceedings of public agencies be conducted openly so that the public may remain informed.

In enacting this article the Legislature finds and declares that it is the intent of the law that actions of state agencies be taken openly and that their deliberation be conducted openly.
The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

This article shall be known and may be cited as the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act.

There are two acts that provide open access to public meetings: The Brown Act and The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. If you have questions about access to public meetings, please review the text of these two acts as well as FAP’s guide to the Brown Act below.


The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act (Government Code 11120-11132) governs meeting access for agencies. For questions, you should consult the Act itself, or feel free to contact us. If you have questions about access to public meetings for local agencies you should consult FAP’s guide to the Brown Act.

Click here to go to the text of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act


The Brown Act (Government Code ?? 54950-54962) governs meeting access for local public bodies. If you have questions about access to public meetings for state agencies you should consult the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act

(The following guide is intended to be a quick reference and provide general information to journalists and citizens. It addresses some common public meetings problems, but does not substitute for research or consultation with a lawyer on detailed questions.)

Pocket Guide to The Brown Act (PDF file)

Open Meeting Laws In California: The Brown Act


Meetings of public bodies must be “open and public,” actions may not be secret, and action taken in violation of open meetings laws may be voided. (?? 54953(a), 54953(c), 54960.1(d))


  • Local agencies, including counties, cities, school and special districts. (? 54951)
  • “Legislative bodies” of each agency–the agency’s governing body plus “covered boards,” that is, any board, commission, committee, task force or other advisory body created by the agency, whether permanent or temporary. (? 54952(b))
  • Any standing committee of a covered board, regardless of number of members. (? 54952(b))
  • Governing Bodies of Non-profit corporations formed by a public agency or which includes a member of a covered board and receives public money from that board. (? 54952(c))


  • ad hoc advisory committees consisting of less than a quorum of the covered board (?54952(b)); most other non-profit corporations.
  • All other government agencies. State governmental agencies are covered by the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. (Govt. Code ?? 11120-11132)


A “meeting” is any gathering of a majority of the members of a covered board to hear, discuss, or deliberate on matters within the agency’s or board’s jurisdiction. (? 54952.2(a))

. Note: No vote or action is required for the gathering to be a meeting, nor must the members meet face to face. (? 54952.2)


Under the Brown Act an agency must:

  • post notice and an agenda for any regular meeting (?? 54954(a), 54954.2(a)); mail notice at least three days before regular meetings to those who request it, (? 54954.1); post notice of continued meetings, (? 54955.1); deliver notice of special meetings at least one day in advance to those who request it, (? 54956); and deliver notice of emergency meetings at least one hour in advance to those who request it.. (?? 54956, 54956.5)
  • notify the media of special or emergency meetings if requested, (?? 54956, 54956.5); allow media to remain in meetings cleared due to public disturbance. (?? 54957.9)
  • hold meetings in the jurisdiction of the agency except in limited circumstances, (?? 54954(b)- (e)), and in places accessible to all, with no fee. (? 54961(a))
  • not require a “sign in” for anyone. (? 54953.3)
  • allow non-disruptive recording and broadcast of meetings, (? 54953.5(a)), and let the public inspect any recording made by the agency of its open meetings. (? 54953.5(b)) The agency may destroy recordings it made after 30 days. (? 54953.5(b))
  • allow the public to address the covered board at regular or committee meetings on any item in the agency’s jurisdiction not addressed by the agency at an earlier open meeting.. (? 54954.3(a))
  • conduct only public votes, with no secret ballots. (? 54953(c))
  • treat documents as public “without delay,” if distributed to all or a majority of members of a board before or at the meeting, unless they are also exempt under the Public Records Act. (? 54957.5)

Local Rules…


. Closed meetings are the exception and permitted only if they meet defined purposes and follow special requirements (?? 54954, 54954.2, 54954.5, 54957.7).


Special public notice and agenda requirements apply (?? 54954, 54954.2, 54954.5, 54957.7).

All actions taken and all votes in closed session must be publicly reported orally or in writing within 24 hours (? 54957.1(b)), and copies of any contracts or settlements approved must be made available promptly (? 54957.1(b),(c)).

What if…


  • Personnel — Only to discuss the appointment, employment, performance evaluation, discipline, complaints about or dismissal of a specific employee or potential employee (? 54957). The employee may request a public meeting on any charges or complaints.But closed sessions are NOT ALLOWED for discussing:
    • general employment
    • independent contractors not functioning as employees
    • salaries
    • the performance of any elected official, or member of the board
    • the local agency’s available funds
    • funding priorities or budget
  • Pending Litigation — Only if open discussion “would prejudice the position of the agency in the litigation.” The litigation must be named on the posted agenda or announced in open session unless doing so would jeopardize the board’s ability to service process on an unserved party or conclude existing settlement negotioations to its advantage. (? 54956.9). To qualify, the agency must:
    • be a party to pending litigation (? 54956.9(a))
    • OR expect, based on certain specified facts, to be sued (?? 54956.9(b)(1),(b)(2))
    • OR expect to file suit itself (? 54956.9(c))
  • Labor Negotiations — Only to instruct the agency’s identified negotiator on compensation issues (? 54957.6). (Note: school districts are covered by the Rodda Act, Govt. Code ?? 3540-3549.3)
  • Property Negotiations — Only to discuss, with an agency’s identified bargaining agent, price or payment terms. The parcel, negotiators and the prospective seller or purchaser must be on the agenda. (? 54956.8) Final price and payment terms must be disclosed when the actual lease or contract is discussed for approval. (? 54957.1(a))
  • Others — License applications for people with criminal records (? 54956.7); threats to public services or facilities; (? 54957) insurance pooling (? 54956.95)).

What to do if…

 ? Copyright 2005. First Amendment Project. All rights reserved.
Imagery ? Copyright 2005 Clinton Fein. All rights reserved.
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About arnierosner

As an American I advocate a republic form of government, self-reliance, and adherence to the basic philosophy of the founding fathers and the founding documents, I ONLY respect those who respect and "HONOR" their honor. No exceptions!
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1 Response to California Public Policy

  1. Pingback: Defining the role of our Public Servants – California | Scanned Retina Blog

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