Castaic Lake Water Agency v. Newhall County Water District

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Castaic Lake Water Agency v. Newhall County Water District

238 Cal.App.4th 1196 (2015)

 

Facts:  Water agency petitioned for writ of mandate to overturn certain action taken by county water district and its board of directors on the ground that they failed to comply with the open meeting requirements of the Brown Act by erroneously noticing a closed session meeting of the Board. The Superior Court dismissed the petition and the Agency appealed.

Applicable Law:  Cal. Government Code § 54950 / Cal. Civil Code §§ 4900-4955

Common Interest Developments are required to comply with the Open Meeting Act (Civil Code §§ 4900-4955), not the Brown Act (Government Code § 54950).  However, the Brown Act may be used as persuasive or guiding authority.

Result:  Court of Appeal held that the water district’s meeting agenda substantially complied with the Brown Act in describing closed session about initiating litigation.  There was no Brown Act violation because the notice substantially complied with the Act. Although the given notice erroneously cited the wrong subsection of the Government Code, it adequately advised the public that the Board would be meeting with its legal counsel in closed session.

Rule:  Substantial compliance with the Open Meeting Act should be sufficient.  So long as an Association’s members are notified of the proper date and time of an Executive Session meeting, minor technical errors in the meeting’s agenda should not be considered a violation of the Open Meeting Act.