Last week, WVCBA and nearly 50 other chambers of commerce and similar organizations statewide wrote a letter to California Deputy Attorney General Ryan B. McCarroll to voice support for community events, specifically “State of the City” style addresses. These events are currently under review by the the Department of Justice at the request of the Ventura County District Attorney’s office to determine whether the Brown Act applies if a majority of the legislative body (i.e. City Council) attends.
In the letter, the coalition states, "No issues are debated by the elected officials in attendance, no policies are voted on, their role is strictly ceremonial. It is our belief that these events fall within the conference and community meeting exemptions to the Brown Act as detailed in Govt. Code 54952.2 (c)(2)-(3)." It goes on to cite other reasons why the such events are exempt from the Brown Act.
The letter concludes by saying, "Should this guidance be revisited or revised to apply the Brown Act to these types of events, the result will likely be that citizens have less accessible elected officials. The Brown Act is intended to ensure that the people’s business is conducted in the open, not to stifle community engagement."