As we have recently observed,
the Brown Act both implements and furthers thecommand set forth in the state constitution that “[t]he people have the right of access toinformation concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and therefore, the meetingsof public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to publicscrutiny.”
To effectuate these purposes, the Brown Act “requires that the legislative bodiesof local agencies . . . hold their meetings open to the public except as expresslyauthorized by the Act.”
While the Brown Act makes exceptions for specified matters
— such as litigation,
and negotiations for real estate transactions
— these exceptions must be construed narrowly, in favor of the public’s right of access to publicinformation.
The courts and this office are occasionally called upon to construe the parametersof a given Brown Act exception. For example, in a recent opinion, we concluded that theAct’s real-estate-negotiations exception does
justify a closed-session discussion of arehabilitation agency’s proposed loan to a private business.
It had been argued that theexception should apply because the proposed loan agreement (1) pertained to the use of
93 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 51, 53-54 (2010).
Cal. Const. art I, § 3(b)(1);
Cal. Const. art. I, § 26 (“The provisions of thisConstitution are mandatory and prohibitory, unless by express words they are declared to be otherwise.”).
§§ 54953, 54962;
Kleitman v. Super Ct.
, 74 Cal. App. 4th 324, 331 (1999).
Hamilton v. Town of Los Gatos
, 213 Cal. App. 3d 1050, 1055 (1989).
Shapiro v. San Diego City Council
, 96 Cal. App. 4th 904, 917 (2002);
San DiegoUnion v. City Council
, 146 Cal. App. 3d 947, 954-955 (1983);
see Rudd v. Cal. Cas. Gen. Ins. Co.
, 219 Cal. App. 3d 948, 952 (1990) (statutory language “must be construed in thecontext of the statutory framework as a whole, keeping in mind the policies and purposesof the statute, and where possible the language should be read so as to conform to thespirit of the enactment”);
Cal. Const. art. I, § 3(b)(2) (legal authority “shall be broadly construed if it furthers the people’s right of access, and narrowly construed if itlimits the right of access.”).
93 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. at 55-59.