Amending the Sunshine Ordinance

 

 

The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF) is an eleven-member commission established to, among other duties, develop and update procedures to implement the San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance. Beginning at least 10 years ago, the Task Force drafted numerous amendments to the ordinance in an effort to clarify some of the language and to address various issues that had surfaced through complaints brought by members of the public through the SOTF hearing process.

 

Updates to amending the Sunshine Ordinance: Sunshine Updates

Sunshine Ordinance

Several examples of specific changes proposed to date:

To Article II: Public Access to Meetings Changes

  • Documents subject to adoption during a meeting must be made available 48 hours before a meeting, or be continued to a subsequent meeting.

To Article III: Public Information and Public Records Changes

  • Each City agency to designate a custodian of records, with identified departmental deputy(s) as backup. Individual custodians are still responsible for records they handle.
  • Public information withheld must be described and provide specific justification for withholding.

To Article IV: Policy Implementation

  • Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Renamed to the “Sunshine Commission” as an independent body not part of or subject to the oversight of any of other branch of the City government.

 

Since the first of the year, a small but growing group of former Task Force (TF) members, Sunshine advocates and activists and League members—Maxine Anderson, Heather Sterner (former TF member), Leuwam Tesfai (current TF member), and me, Allyson Washburn (former TF chair)—have been meeting to develop a strategy for amending, and strengthening, the ordinance through a measure on the November ballot. To date, much of the discussion has been about the pros and cons of (1) a Charter amendment versus an ordinance and (2) a voter initiative, which would involve a petition drive, versus obtaining support from the requisite number of Supervisors who would then put the measure on the ballot. We have not yet settled on a path to the ballot. Opinions about the best course vary, so for now we are keeping our options open until time, money, and politics—internal and external—start to prune some of them off.

 

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Watch this space for updates on the push for more open and accountable government in San Francisco!

 

For more information on the League’s role with the Sunshine Ordinance

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