By Miriam Raftery
September 16, 2014 (San Diego)—San Diego’s City Council meets twice a week, but allows public comments on non-agenda only once a week, on Tuesdays. That may be illegal-- violating requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act for open government, says City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
The issue was raised in a lawsuit filed against the city by land-use lawyer Craig Sherman. The Times of San Diego reports that Goldsmith told the Council the matter needs to be investigated.
The limit on public comments has been in effect since a 2001 legal opinion by then-City Attorney Casey Gwinn. But Gwinn says that opinion cited no legal authority, and that an investigation is needed to determine whether the rule can withstand a legal challenge.
Council plans a closed-door session to discuss the matter. Meanwhile, a deal reached with Sherman will stop the lawsuit from proceding if Council agrees to all public comment on topics of the public’s choosing every day that the Council meets.