Oakland adopted a Sunshine Ordinance on January 14, 1997 to supplement the requirements of the statewide Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act and "assure that the people of the City of Oakland can be fully informed and thereby retain control over the instruments of local government in their city". It recognized that
"Commissions, boards, councils, advisory bodies and other agencies of the City exist to conduct the people's business. This Ordinance is intended to assure that their deliberations and that the City's operations are open to the public".
Its original provisions were developed by the League of Women Voters of Oakland with the assistance of the California First Amendment Coalition, in extensive negotiation with City administrators. The 1997 ordinance was sponsored by City Councilmembers John Russo1 and Dick Spees, who led the way in securing political support for expanding Oakland's open government policies and practices.
Certain provisions of the ordinance have since been amended, most significantly in 2003.
This ordinance covers topics including:
- Public Meeting Notices
- Meeting Minutes
- Public Information Requests
- Organizations and Meetings covered by the ordinance
- Meeting Conduct
The law is available here.
A founding member of OpenOakland who now sits on the Public Ethics Commission has provided a new web tool to allow anyone to contribute ideas side by side with the legislation to aide in the process of updating this out-dated ordinance and to allow for a public discourse on the changes needed to bring this law up-to-date and to incorporate new technologies available for such uses. oakland.digress.it/sunshine-ordinance
A recent review of the Sunshine Ordinance and a perspective is available here from A New America Foundation.
In 2010 there was a public outcry following a decision of the Public Ethics Commission to require the city to go to mediation over claims it violated the Sunshine and Public Records Act2.