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CARPD Co-Sponsors Brown Act Reform Intended to Increase Civic Engagement (AB 817)

This year, CARPD is proud to be a co-sponsor of AB 817 (Pacheco) with the League of California Cities (CalCities), Urban Counties of California (UCC), Rural County Representative of California (RCRC), and the California Association of Counties (CSAC). AB 817 will serve to remove barriers to entry to civic leadership and we appreciate your support.

Local governments across the state have faced an ongoing challenge to recruit and retain members of the public on advisory bodies, boards, and commissions. Challenges associated with recruitment have been attributed to participation time commitments; time and location of meetings; physical limitation, conflicts with childcare, and work obligations. The COVID-19 global pandemic drove both hyper-awareness and concerns about the spread of infectious diseases, as well as removed barriers to local civic participation by allowing this same remote participation. This enabled individuals who could not otherwise accommodate the time, distance, or mandatory physical participation requirements to engage locally, providing access to leadership opportunities and providing communities with greater diversified input on critical community proposals.

Diversification in civic participation at all levels requires careful consideration of different protected characteristics as well as socio-economic status. The in-person requirement to participate in local governance bodies presents a disproportionate challenge for those with physical or economic limitations, including seniors, persons with disability, single parents and/or caretakers, economically marginalized groups, and those who live in rural areas and face prohibitive driving distances. Participation in local advisory bodies and appointed boards and commissions often serves as a pipeline to local elected office and opportunities for state and federal leadership positions.

AB 817 would help address these issues by providing a narrow exemption under the Ralph M. Brown Act for non-decision-making legislative bodies that do not take final action on any legislation, regulations, contracts, licenses, permits, or other entitlements, so that equity in opportunity to serve locally and representative diversity in leadership can be achieved. For these reasons, CARPD is pleased to sponsor AB 817.

For more on AB 817, check out our Coalition Letter, Assembly Member Pacheco’s Fact Sheet, and review the current draft language HERE

AB 817 Fact SheetAB 817 Coalition Letter
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