City Committees in Limbo

Update: At the December 2008 City Council meeting the Council decided to postpone action on the Committee Handbook and Committee status until the February 2008 meeting.


At the August 2008 City Council Meeting, the Council downgraded most committees to "Citizen Committees", which will operate independently of the City.

This unagendized action, suprised many in the Community, because at the May 2008 City Council meeting, the City Attorney recommended against disbanding a Committee without putting it on the Agenda and taking public comment. (See below)

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It also has lead to confusion. The Brown Act states that City Council created committees fall under Brown Act requirements for noticing and public participation. By virtue of taking the action to disassociate City Committees from the City, the Council made that attempt impossible.
The unagendized action also raises the question whether the Council decision is even valid.

The City has 6 or 7 Committees and Commissions.

Committees & Commissions
Body Established by
Planning Commission State Law
Emergency Preparedness Committee General Plan (below)
Parks & Rec Council Action June 29, 2006
Public Works City Council Resolution 01-50
Historical Committee Council Action 1986
Parks Master Plan Committee Council Action 9/07
Municipal Code Update Committee Council Action

• No action was taken to alter the Planning Commission as it is required by State Law.

• The Emergency Preparedness Committee appears to be required by the General Plan (below), so it is not understood how the Council could try to dissolve or downgrade this Committee without a General Plan Amendment.

General Plan Safety Element and Implementation Program Excerpts
Safety Element Policy 35. The City shall actively promote and support the continued operation of the La Habra Heights Emergency Preparedness Committee

General Plan Implementation Program

Community Safety Outreach Program

Program Implementation: This program will integrate current efforts being undertaken by the Emergency Preparedness Committee.

At the December 2008 City Council Meeting, the Emergency Preparedness Chair announced the Committee disbanded due to lack of City Council support.

• In June 2006, the Council changed the Parks & Rec Committee from a Commission to a Committee (Bergman & Millsap opposed the change) in an attempt to exclude it from the Brown Act requirements, stating reasons such as they needed to be able to meet as needed for events such as the Avocado Festival..

However, by virtue of the Council having taken the action to change it, the Parks & Rec Committee or Commission, in the opinion of this website, still has to comply with the Brown Act:

From the Brown Act - "54952.  As used in this chapter, "legislative body" means:
   (b) A commission, committee, board, or other body of a local agency, whether permanent or temporary, decisionmaking or advisory, created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body"

The Public Works Committee was established by City Council Resolution 01-50, which stated rules of membership, the purposes of the Committee and other details.

The Historical Committee has been a longstanding, Council created Committee.

The Park Master Plan Committee was created by the Council on 9/13/07, by a 3-2 (Carroll, Baroldi & Vipperman For - Bergman & Millsap Opposed) vote of the Council, with a quota from each of specified groups and the public at large.

As affirmed by Councilmember Millsap at the time, they were required to comply with the Brown Act.

However, as soon as they started meeting, the Committee did not comply with the Brown Act, having received conflicting advice from City Staff.

Finally, after concern expressed from residents, the Committee was made to comply with the Brown Act, though the Chair stated disapprovingly, "We got nailed by the Brown Act."

The number of members required to meet a quorum was reduced due to lack of attendence.

The Park Master Plan Committee was excluded from the change to a "Citizen Committee" for unclear reasons.

Clarified by the Council at the October 16, 2008 meeting, EPC, Parks & Rec, and Public Works are "Citizens Committees", not Council Committees.

Confusingly though the Council voted to televise all Parks and Rec meetings.

This website believes that all committees are still Council Committees and subject to the requirements of the Brown Act.

The enforcement agency for the Brown Act is the District Attorney. They target the members of Committees, Commissions and Councils who do not comply with the Brown Act, not the Staff members who may have give them incorrect information.