By Raiza Giorgi
The Solvang City Council has canceled its regular meeting that was scheduled for tonight and has called a special meeting for Wednesday instead. The agenda for Wednesday is nearly identical to the one for Monday.
One of the items on the agenda calls for the removal of Joan Jamieson from the city’s Board of Architectural Review for allegedly violating the Brown Act, but the council members themselves would have violated the Brown Act if they held the meeting tonight, because it wasn’t properly advertised to the public.
“It is always the City staff’s intent to provide with all legal noticing requirements for Council meetings and to provide information as soon as possible and within legal requirements. Unfortunately, staff did not place a hard copy of an agenda outside the City Hall for this Agenda. Council has been notified. The City will cancel the regular meeting tonight. Notice of cancellation has just been posted both online and outside the City Hall,” Acting City Manager Xenia Bradford told the Star.
Council agendas for Monday night meetings are typically posted 72 hours in advance in a kiosk outside City Hall, no later than 6:30 p.m. the previous Friday evening.
Monday’s agenda had not been posted in the kiosk as of Sunday evening. The agenda was posted to the city’s website by Friday, and the packet of staff reports and other background information for the meeting was posted Sunday evening. However, simply posting to the website does not meet the requirements of the Brown Act, California’s open-meetings law.
The Brown Act specifically states that the agenda must be posted at least 72 hours before the regular meeting in a location “freely accessible to members of the public.” The California Attorney General interprets that law to require the posting to the public 24 hours a day during the 72-hour period, but any of the 72 hours may fall on a weekend. The posting can also be made on a touch screen kiosk accessible without charge to the public, but posting an agenda only on an agency’s website is inadequate because there is no universal public access to the internet (California Government Code section 54954.2(a)(1)).
The agenda posted online listed several items, including a comprehensive annual financial report. Another item was reviewing an update for the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) municipal code recommending the council establish an ad-hoc committee to work with staff to establish rules and codification of BAR authority and qualifications for membership.
The council will also consider removing BAR member Joan Jamieson at the request of Mayor Ryan Toussaint, for an email Jamieson sent to the other BAR members that Wullbrandt cited for potentially violating the Brown Act.
Jamieson said over the weekend she intended to fight the accusation and the agenda item. The email in question was sent to the California News Publishers Association with Wullbrandt’s response, and CNPA staff determined that Jamieson’s email didn’t “attempt to influence” the city council’s vote or take action outside of a public meeting.
“Jamieson’s email simply asks members to attend the public meeting,” according to Brittney Barsotti, staff attorney for the CNPA.
Another big item scheduled for tonight is the city’s second-quarter financial report, which amended the adopted 2019-20 budget to reflect changes the council has approved since then. The changes appear to include more than $2.1 million in adjustments (See Page 338 of the Agenda Packet.
There is now a special meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at City Hall (1644 Oak St. in Solvang). The agenda and packet will be posted at City Hall and available at www.cityofsolvang.com and under the City Hall tab.