Water Authority Prevails in Open Meetings Lawsuit
July 23, 2018
Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer ruled in favor of the San Diego County Water Authority on July 20, 2018, in a lawsuit that erroneously alleged the agency was violating the state’s primary open meetings statute, known as the Brown Act.
San Diegans for Open Government, represented by Cory Briggs, sued the Water Authority on June 12, 2017, claiming violations of the Brown Act. Briggs asserted that the four delegates appointed by the Water Authority to the Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors were a “legislative body” under the Brown Act. Under that incorrect theory, Briggs argued that any time a majority of MWD delegates talked to one another, or with others, they created a “meeting” that was required to be publicly noticed under the Brown Act.
The Water Authority is one of MWD’s largest customers and has four seats on MWD’s 38-member board. Meyer ruled that the Water Authority’s delegates do not constitute a legislative body subject to the Brown Act, and he awarded the Water Authority court costs.
“During the entire course of this litigation we informed Mr. Briggs and his client that the Water Authority was not violating the Brown Act,” said Water Authority General Counsel Mark Hattam. “We are pleased that the court confirmed that we are in Brown Act compliance.”
The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $268 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 24 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.
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