Shapiro v. San Diego City Council

117 Cal. Rptr. 2d 631 (2002)

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Shapiro v. San Diego City Council

California Court of Appeal
117 Cal. Rptr. 2d 631 (2002)

Facts

Between December 1998 and October 1999, the San Diego City Council (council) (defendant) held numerous closed-session meetings regarding a redevelopment plan that would entail, among other things, a new stadium for the San Diego Padres. Melvin Shapiro (plaintiff) sued the council, alleging these meetings violated California’s Ralph M. Brown Act, which requires that legislative bodies generally proceed in sessions open to the public. Specifically, Shapiro alleged the council violated the act’s requirements for closed-session meetings because their public agendas provided insufficient detail by stating items of business like giving instructions to negotiators rather than identifying specific properties and transactions, which the act allegedly required. Shapiro further complained that the closed-session meetings involved substantive discussions on issues beyond the scope of the agendas. Shapiro sought, and the trial court granted, declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the council to comply with the act. The council modified some of its practices in response to the trial court’s actions and acknowledged the propriety of declaratory relief but appealed the injunction, arguing there was no basis for an injunction because the trial court did not explicitly find future violations were threatened. With respect to its compliance with the act, the council argued that (1) it was complying with the act’s safe harbor regarding agendas and thus had no further disclosure obligation about a complex real estate transaction and (2) it should be allowed to discuss in closed session issues reasonably related to items on public agendas.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Huffman, J.)

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