When Does the Brown Act Allow A Council or Board To Meet Outside the Jurisdiction?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The Ralph M. Brown Act codified at Government Code section 54950 et seq., California’s open meeting law gives the public the opportunity to know what their elected officials are doing, and requires their meetings to be open and public.

When does the Brown Act allow a Council or Board to meet outside their jurisdiction?

Generally, the Brown Act does not allow legislative bodies to meet outside their jurisdiction “Regular and special meetings of the legislative body shall be held within the boundaries of the territory over which the local agency exercises jurisdiction . . .”  Government Code section 54954(b).

However, there are the exceptions listed in the same section:

(1) Comply with state or federal law or court order, or attend a judicial or administrative proceeding to which the local agency is a party.

(2) Inspect real or personal property which cannot be conveniently brought within the boundaries of the territory over which the local agency exercises jurisdiction provided that the topic of the meeting is limited to items directly related to the real or personal property.
(3) Participate in meetings or discussions of multiagency significance that are outside the boundaries of a local agency’s jurisdiction. However, any meeting or discussion held pursuant to this subdivision shall take place within the jurisdiction of one of the participating local agencies and be noticed by all participating agencies as provided for in this chapter.
(4) Meet in the closest meeting facility if the local agency has no meeting facility within the boundaries of the territory over which the local agency exercises jurisdiction, or at the principal office of the local agency if that office is located outside the territory over which the agency exercises jurisdiction.
(5) Meet outside their immediate jurisdiction with elected or appointed officials of the United States or the State of California when a local meeting would be impractical, solely to discuss a legislative or regulatory issue affecting the local agency and over which the federal or state officials have jurisdiction.
(6) Meet outside their immediate jurisdiction if the meeting takes place in or nearby a facility owned by the agency, provided that the topic of the meeting is limited to items directly related to the facility.
(7) Visit the office of the local agency’s legal counsel for a closed session on pending litigation held pursuant to Section 54956.9, when to do so would reduce legal fees or costs.
There are also special rules for school boards:

(c) Meetings of the governing board of a school district shall be held within the district, except under the circumstances enumerated in subdivision (b), or to do any of the following:

(1) Attend a conference on nonadversarial collective bargaining techniques.
(2) Interview members of the public residing in another district with reference to the trustees’ potential employment of an applicant for the position of the superintendent of the district.
(3) Interview a potential employee from another district.  Government Code section 54954(c).
Also, Joint Powers Authority have special rules.
(d) Meetings of a joint powers authority shall occur within the territory of at least one of its member agencies, or as provided in subdivision (b). However, a joint powers authority which has members throughout the state may meet at any facility in the state which complies with the requirements of Section 54961. Government Code section 54954(d).
Practically, it can be very difficult for a legislative body to meet outside its jurisdiction. For one, politically, it looks like the agency is hiding something.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104,
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

City of Riverside Charter Change and the City Attorney’s Office

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I have previously written about the City of Riverside City Attorney’s Office.  In today’s Press-Enterprise, there is an article about proposed Charter changes that would limit the office of the City Manager.   The article is written by Alicia Robinson and is titled Charter changes would set limits on City Manager.  I do not know where it was located in the physical newspaper.

The section regarding the City Attorney’s Office is very interesting:

The other change removes the city manager’s authority over employees of the . . . city attorney. . . .

City Attorney Greg Priamos, who proposed the change, would only speak generally about it and would not comment on whether it was a response to a specific incident.

The charter now lets the city manager approve or disapprove hiring decisions of the city clerk and attorney. Priamos said he doesn’t think that matches the intent of the charter to keep those three positions independent.

“Having the city manager having any influence whatsoever on the personnel decisions of the city attorney can … impair the city attorney’s ability to provide independent, unbiased legal advice and counsel to my client,” which is the city as represented by the council, Priamos said.

. . .

. . . Barbara Purvis, a retired assistant city attorney . . . said she is puzzled as to why a charter change is needed. But city documents suggest former City Manager Brad Hudson was likely the impetus for the proposal.

According to documents released in response to a California Public Records Act request, former Deputy City Attorney Rachele [sic] Sterling filed an internal complaint in February alleging Hudson accessed her city emails because of her political support of Councilman Paul Davis, and because he wanted to know what city employees had told her about “improper and unethical practices in the public works department.”

In March, Sterling wrote to the council detailing alleged improprieties in awarding contracts, saying employees were directed to steer work to Hudson’s friends. Hudson and the city have denied the allegations and a city-commissioned outside legal investigation found no wrongdoing. Sterling was fired in May.

The city has never explained why Hudson was looking at the emails of one of Priamos’ subordinates, and officials have not clarified whether that could be a violation of attorney-client privilege. When asked in August, Hudson refused to say why he was looking at Sterling’s emails, but in documents from the outside law firm’s investigation, Hudson said he had heard complaints that Sterling was interfering in public works matters.

The report noted that Hudson “functioned as a supervisor” over Sterling and thus had the power under city policy to review her emails. Priamos said attorney-client privilege prevents him from discussing the email incident.

Purvis said it would be “totally improper” for anyone outside the city attorney’s office to review its employee emails. She’d like an explanation of the proposed change, she said, because the charter shouldn’t be altered without a compelling reason.

As background, Raychele Sterling was my immediate predecessor at the City of San Bernardino.  She returned to the City of Riverside in 2001, opening up the position of Deputy City Attorney in San Bernardino.  She was always very helpful to me both in the brief hour or so we discussed the cases and matters I was inheriting from her in San Bernardino, or to point me in the right direction in the Riverside City Attorney’s Office, or if I had a public works question.  I last spoke to her last year, in person, at Riverside City Hall, before her firing.  I have not spoken to her since, and I have no inside knowledge of what happened in Riverside beyond what has been reported in the Press-Enterprise.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find the charter committees proposals online, so I cannot explain the actual changes to the existing charter.  The committee will present its proposal to Council on January 24, 2012.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

What is a “dangerous condition of public property?”

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

A public entity may only be held liable for a dangerous condition of its property, not for simple negligence or premises liability.   Before I was in private practice helping plaintiffs, I received a good education in a variety of dangerous condition of public property cases when I was Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino and as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands.

A “dangerous condition” is “a condition of property that creates a substantial (as distinguished from a minor, trivial, or insignificant) risk of injury when such property . . . is used with due care in a manner in which it is foreseeable that it will be used.”  Government Code § 830(a).  A public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of property it owns or controls if the plaintiff establishes that (1) the property was in a dangerous condition at the time of injury; (2) that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition; (3) the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury incurred; and either (i) a public employee, within the scope of his or her employment, negligent or wrongly committed an act or omission that created the condition or (ii) the entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition in sufficient time before the injury to take protective measures against the dangerous condition. California Government Code §§ 830, 835.

What are the kinds of scenarios that might involve two public entities, or a mix of public entities and private entities?  The scenarios I have seen as an attorney have included:

1. A city, a water district, and a private land owner, where a sidewalk panel was removed to replace a meter box, and the sidewalk panel was never replaced.  The plaintiff tripped and fell.

2. A city, a school district, and an adjoining land owner, and a nonprofit youth organization, where the plaintiff tripped over a utility cover, wherein the surrounding compacted dirt had eroded over the years, but no sidewalk ever existed.

3. A city, a county, and a private land owner, and a private party, where a motorcyclist died at an intersection jointly controlled by the city and county, when the motorcyclist was struck by the private party’s automobile.

4. A trip and fall that happened only in one city, but the plaintiff sued two cities because it was not clear which entity owned or controlled the sidewalk.

5. An injury to a person who was waiting at a bus stop from a city tree in a city park, but at a bus stop owned and controlled by a joint-powers authority transit system.

6. A flooding case wherein the flood control channel was owned by a county flood control agency, but the culvert and bridge were owned by a city.

California Government Code section 830(c) states “‘Property of a public entity’ and “public property” means real or personal property owned or controlled by the public entity, but do not include easements, encroachments and other property that are located on the property of the public entity but are not owned or controlled by the entity.”

“Where the public entity’s relationship to the dangerous property is not clear, aid may be sought by inquiring whether the particular defendant had control, in the sense of power to prevent, remedy or guard against the dangerous condition; whether his ownership is a naked title or whether it is coupled with control; and whether a private defendant, having a similar relationship to the property, would be responsible for its safe condition.”  Low v. City of Sacramento (1970) 7 Cal.App.3d 826, 833-834.

Obviously, ownership is a key fact to prove.  Control can be more difficult.  In the case of a jointly controlled intersection, there is typically an agreement between the two public entities. Obtain and examine that agreement (either through discovery or by using the California Public Records Act).  Control can be established by deposing maintenance workers who have personal knowledge of the maintenance work done at the property, and to a limited extent, with written discovery.

In Bonanno v. Central Contra Costa Transit Authority, the California Supreme Court ruled that  “the location of public property, by which users are subjected to hazards on adjacent property, may constitute a dangerous condition” under Government Code sections 830 and 835.  Bonanno v. Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (2003) 30 Cal.4th 139, 815-816.

Therefore, there are factual scenarios where more than one public entity can be responsible for one injury by pleading and proving a dangerous condition of public property cause of action.  In the flooding scenario noted above, the plaintiff also pled an inverse condemnation cause of action.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
      Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

W: http://michaelreiterlaw.com

Can two public entities be jointly responsible for the same injury under a dangerous condition of public property theory of liability?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

A public entity may only be held liable for a dangerous condition of its property, not for simple negligence or premises liability.   Before I was in private practice helping plaintiffs, I received a good education in a variety of dangerous condition of public property cases when I was Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino and as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands.

A “dangerous condition” is “a condition of property that creates a substantial (as distinguished from a minor, trivial, or insignificant) risk of injury when such property . . . is used with due care in a manner in which it is foreseeable that it will be used.”  Government Code § 830(a).  A public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of property it owns or controls if the plaintiff establishes that (1) the property was in a dangerous condition at the time of injury; (2) that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition; (3) the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury incurred; and either (i) a public employee, within the scope of his or her employment, negligent or wrongly committed an act or omission that created the condition or (ii) the entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition in sufficient time before the injury to take protective measures against the dangerous condition.  Government Code §§ 830, 835.

What are the kinds of scenarios that might involve two public entities, or a mix of public entities and private entities?  The scenarios I have seen as an attorney have included:

1. A city, a water district, and a private land owner, where a sidewalk panel was removed to replace a meter box, and the sidewalk panel was never replaced.  The plaintiff tripped and fell.

2. A city, a school district, and an adjoining land owner, and a nonprofit youth organization, where the plaintiff tripped over a utility cover, wherein the surrounding compacted dirt had eroded over the years, but no sidewalk ever existed.

3. A city, a county, and a private land owner, and a private party, where a motorcyclist died at an intersection jointly controlled by the city and county, when the motorcyclist was struck by the private party’s automobile.

4. A trip and fall that happened only in one city, but the plaintiff sued two cities because it was not clear which entity owned or controlled the sidewalk.

5. An injury to a person who was waiting at a bus stop from a city tree in a city park, but at a bus stop owned and controlled by a joint-powers authority transit system.

6. A flooding case wherein the flood control channel was owned by a county flood control agency, but the culvert and bridge were owned by a city.

Government Code section 830(c) states “‘Property of a public entity’ and “public property” means real or personal property owned or controlled by the public entity, but do not include easements, encroachments and other property that are located on the property of the public entity but are not owned or controlled by the entity.”

“Where the public entity’s relationship to the dangerous property is not clear, aid may be sought by inquiring whether the particular defendant had control, in the sense of power to prevent, remedy or guard against the dangerous condition; whether his ownership is a naked title or whether it is coupled with control; and whether a private defendant, having a similar relationship to the property, would be responsible for its safe condition.”  Low v. City of Sacramento (1970) 7 Cal.App.3d 826, 833-834.

Obviously, ownership is a key fact to prove.  Control can be more difficult.  In the case of a jointly controlled intersection, there is typically an agreement between the two public entities. Obtain and examine that agreement (either through discovery or by using the California Public Records Act).  Control can be established by deposing maintenance workers who have personal knowledge of the maintenance work done at the property, and to a limited extent, with written discovery.

Also, conditions of adjacent property can make public property hazardous.  In Bonanno v. Central Contra Costa Transit Authority, the California Supreme Court ruled that  “the location of public property, by which users are subjected to hazards on adjacent property, may constitute a dangerous condition” under Government Code sections 830 and 835.  Bonanno v. Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (2003) 30 Cal.4th 139, 815-816.

Therefore, there are factual scenarios where more than one public entity can be responsible for one injury by pleading and proving a dangerous condition of public property cause of action.  In the flooding scenario noted above, the plaintiff also pled an inverse condemnation cause of action.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
      Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

W: http://michaelreiterlaw.com

In-House City Attorneys in Southern California: When Were They Admitted, Where Did They Attend Law School, and What University Did They Attend?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

 

This is a continuation of my series about Southern California In-House City Attorneys in California.  This information is gleaned from open and public sources, all online, including the State of California’s website.  This may seem like very personal information, but it is not.  Each of these attorneys are public officials and public figures.  They knew the job was dangerous when they took it.

 

City Name Name of City Attorney Tenure Law School Undergrad Admitted in CA
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino James F. Penman 1987 Western State Univ. CSU San Bernardino 1980
Redlands Daniel J. McHugh 1994 McGeorge SOL Rutgers 1983
Riverside County
Moreno Valley Robert Hansen 2010 Southwestern Univ. Brigham Young Univ. 1987
Riverside Gregory Priamos 2001 Loyola Law School U.S.C. 1988
Los Angeles County
Burbank Dennis Barlow 1997 Univ. of San Diego Brigham Young Univ. 1975
Compton Craig J. Cornwell 2008 Whittier College SOL U.C. Santa Barbara 1994
Culver City Carol Schwab 1997 U.C. Hastings SOL U.C. Berkeley 1985
Glendale Scott H. Howard 1990 Southwestern Univ. U.S.C. 1976
Hawthorne Russell I. Miyahira 2009 U.C. Hastings SOL U.C.L.A. 1986
Inglewood Cal P. Saunders 2006 U.C. Hastings SOL CSU Long Beach 1975
Long Beach Robert E. Shannon 1998 U.C.L.A. SOL U.C.L.A. 1969
Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert 2010 McGeorge SOL U.C. Santa Barbara 1999
Los Angeles Carmen Trutanich 2009 South Bay Univ., Harbour City, CA U.S.C. 1979
Palmdale Wm. Matthew Ditzhazy 1994 Michigan State Univ. Univ. of Michigan 1985
Pasadena Michele Beal Bagneris 1997 UC Berkeley/Boalt Hall Stanford 1984
Redondo Beach Michael W. Webb 2005 U.C. Hastings SOL U.C. Santa Barbara 1987
Santa Monica Marsha Jones Moutrie 1993 U.C.L.A. SOL U.C.L.A. 1976
Torrance John L. Fellowes III 1993 U.S.C. Law School U.C. Irvine 1981
Orange
Anaheim Cristina Talley 2009 U.C.L.A. SOL Cal. Poly Pomona 1982
Huntington Beach Jennifer McGrath 2002 McGeorge SOL U.C.L.A. 1995
Newport Beach David R. Hunt 2008 McGeorge SOL U.C. Irvine 1983
Orange David A. DeBerry Western State Univ. San Diego State 1989
Santa Ana Joe Straka 2011 Cleveland-Marshall SOL Kent State 1987
Ventura County
Oxnard Alan Holmberg 2008 U.S.C. Law School Oberlin 1975
Simi Valley  Tracy M. Noonan 2009 Southwestern Univ. CSU Long Beach 1994
Thousand Oaks Amy Albano Albany Law School S.U.N.Y (Unknown Location) 1982
Ventura Ariel P. Calonne 2007 U.C. Hastings SOL U.C. Riverside 1983
San Diego County
Carlsbad Ronald R. Ball Santa Clara Univ. Stanford 1977
Chula Vista Glen R. Googins 2010 UC Berkeley/Boalt Hall Dartmouth 1988
Escondido Jeffrey R. Epp 1996 Univ. of Wyoming COL Univ. of Wyoming 1986
National City Claudia Silva 2010 Univ. of San Diego U.C.L.A. 1993
Oceanside John P. Mullen 2006 Univ. of San Diego U.C. San Diego 1992
San Diego Jan Goldsmith 2008 Univ. of San Diego American Univ. 1976
Vista Darold Pieper 2005 U.S.C. Law School U.C.L.A. 1971
Imperial
El Centro Luis F. Hernandez 2008 UC Berkeley/Boalt Hall Santa Clara Univ. 1979

For Law Schools, this is the tally:   U.C. Hastings has  five active in-house City Attorneys,  University of San Diego School of Law has four, McGeorge has four, Boalt Hall (U.C. Berkeley) has three, U.C.L.A. has three, U.S.C. has three, Southwestern has three, Western State University has two, Loyola, Santa Clara, Albany, Whittier, Michigan State, Univ. of Wyoming, Cleveland-Marshall, South Bay University are tied for one a piece.

I am not an in-house City Attorney, but as frequent readers of this site will note, I am a former Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, and a former Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands.  Roughly, I worked about nine and a half years for those cities, and I was also a clerk in law school for the City of Santa Clara.  I graduated from the Santa Clara University School of Law and the University of California, Berkeley.  I have been admitted in the State of California to practice continuously since 1998.  In private practice, I work in municipal law both for the public and on behalf of public agencies.

Previous posts in the series of In-House City Attorneys in Southern California:

Cost Per Attorney for In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

Ratio of Attorneys to Population in In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

An Abbreviated Version of the Chart of In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address : 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055

 

Cost Per Attorney for In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Here is another chart comparing the various in-house City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California.  This time, the comparison is the cost per attorney.  This is the number arrived at by dividing the 2011-2012 budget (or the latest available budget) by the number of in-house attorneys.  This is not the true cost per attorney, because the budget includes such things as supplies, investigators, secretaries, and paralegals.  El Centro and Hawthorne have incredible numbers, that if true, show a very tight ship indeed.  Newport Beach’s ratio is high because it includes the outside counsel budget.  The City of Riverside spends more than $56,000 less per attorney, a number that could be attributable to the City Attorney investigators used in San Bernardino.  Oxnard and Oceanside, which are the two cities I think are most analogous to the City of San Bernardino as far as legal problems, demographics and size, are underspending San Bernardino by about $35,000 and $47,000 per attorney.  A closer examination of the differences between the offices is in order before drawing more conclusions.

City Name # Attorneys 2011-’12 Budget $/Attorney
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino 10 $3,026,000* $302,600
Redlands 1 $429,237* $429,237
Riverside County
Moreno Valley 3 $910,535* $303,512
Riverside 14 $3,451,041 $246,502
Los Angeles County
Burbank 11 $3,614,447 $328,586
Compton 4 Not Online Unknown
Culver City 4 $1,779,809 $444,952
Glendale 13 $3,720,156* $286,165
Hawthorne 3.6** $551,447 $153,179
Inglewood 10** $2,342,133** $234,213
Long Beach 22 $8,585,107 $390,232
Long Beach City Prosecutor 17 $4,824,978* $283,822
Los Angeles 444 $94,950,894* $213,853
Palmdale 2 $3,988,760 $1,994,380
Pasadena 20 $6,467,000* $323,350
Redondo Beach 6 $2,496,915* $416,152
Santa Monica 24.5 $8,672331* $353,972
Torrance 6 $2,160,322* $360,054
Orange
Anaheim 23 $5,592,143 $243,137
Huntington Beach 7 $2,311,624* $330,232
Newport Beach 5.7 $2,298,563.87*** $403,256
Orange 4 $1,411,049* $352,762
Santa Ana 8.5 $2,081,395* $244,870
Ventura County
Oxnard 5 $1,336,917* $267,383
Simi Valley  4 $983,400* $245,850
Thousand Oaks 4 $1,564,032* $391,008
Ventura 4 $1,711,112 $427,778
San Diego County
Carlsbad 4 $1,336,460* $334,115
Chula Vista 8 $2,271,182 $283,898
Escondido 7 $1,873,925 $267,703
National City 2.5 $703,760 $281,504
Oceanside 6 $1,535,860 $255,977
San Diego 147 $42,442,992* $288,728
Vista 3 $1,011,603 $337,201
Imperial
El Centro 3** $588,772** $196,257
* 2011-2012 Proposed
** 2010-2011 Adopted
*** Includes Outside Counsel budget

The City of Palmdale’s City Attorney’s Office bares more scrutiny.  Looking back at it, it has a category of “operating expenses” without a detailed break-out of what that entails.  However, even if it includes outside counsel (like Newport Beach), the number seems high.  Perhaps litigation reserves are included in the City Attorney’s budget?  The City’s budget gives the personnel expenditures of $822,060.  That includes two lawyers, and 4.16 positions in total.  The price per attorney for just salaries, wages, and similar would be $411,030 per attorney, still higher than the average.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Ratio of Attorneys to Population in In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Continuing my series on In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California, here is a new set of data comparing the Attorneys to population in City Attorney’s Offices.

City Name Pop. (2011 est.) # Attorneys Atty/Population Ratio
San Bernardino 211,076 10 21,108
Redlands 69,231 1 69,231
Riverside County
Moreno Valley 195,216 3 65,072
Riverside 306,779 14 21,913
Los Angeles County
Burbank 104,304 11 9,482
Compton 96,925 4 24,231
Culver City 38,973 4 9,743
Glendale 192,473 13 14,805
Hawthorne 84,854 3.6** 23,571
Inglewood 110,028 10** 11,003
Long Beach 463,894 22 11,894
Long Beach City Prosecutor Included Above 17 Included Above
Los Angeles 3,810,129 444 8,581
Palmdale 153,334 2 76,667
Pasadena 138,915 20 6,946
Redondo Beach 66,970 6 11,162
Santa Monica 90,174 24.5 3,681
Torrance 145,927 6 24,321
Orange
Anaheim 341,034 23 14,828
Huntington Beach 190,377 7 27,196
Newport Beach 85,376 5.7 14,978
Orange 136,995 4 34,249
Santa Ana 325,228 8.5 38,262
Ventura County
Oxnard 199,722 5 39,944
Simi Valley  125,026 4 31,257
Thousand Oaks 127,557 4 31,899
Ventura 107,124 4 26,781
San Diego County
Carlsbad 106,555 4 26,639
Chula Vista 246,496 8 30,812
Escondido 145,196 7 26,774
National City 58,785 2.5 23,514
Oceanside 168,173 6 28,029
San Diego 1,311,882 147 8,924
Vista 94,431 3 31,477
Imperial
El Centro 43,145 3** 14,382
* 2011-2012 Proposed
** 2010-2011 Adopted

Not surprisingly, the ratio is usually lowest in cities that prosecute state law misdemeanors and in large cities.  For example, Anaheim has a ratio of one attorney per 14,828  in population.  Los Angeles has one attorney per 8,851 people.  San Diego, the State of California’s second largest city, has a similar ratio, one city attorney per 8,924 people.  Palmdale, Redlands, and Moreno Valley have the highest ratios.

What does the data mean?   The average in Southern California is one attorney per 20,000 population. I think in some cases, it means that some cities are richer than other cities.  I think Santa Monica is certainly in this category, with one attorney per 3,861 in population.  In other cases, it may mean that some cities are overweight.  In researching this data, I found, for example, that El Centro was considering eliminating its in-house City Attorney’s Office.  The City of Oxnard looks like it could use another attorney, but these are fiscally trying times.

One caveat is that the cities are not equal.  The number of attorneys includes attorneys in cities that prosecute state law misdemeanors.  Also, full service cities should be expected to need more help then non-full service cities.  That explains Palmdale and Moreno Valley a little, but Moreno Valley cut a vacant position in 2010, also skewing the ratio.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

An Abbreviated Version of the Chart of In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Usually WordPress is a very reliable platform, but in this case, it did not like the chart that I created to illustrate my earlier post.  Here is a more readable post without information about each City’s City Attorney:

City Name Pop. (2011 est.) City Form Charter or General Law Full Service? Elected/Appointed # Attorneys 2011-’12 Budget Prosecute State Law Misdemeanors?
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino 211,076 Charter Y E 10 $3,026,000* No
Redlands 69,231 General Law Y A 1 $429,237* No
Riverside County
Moreno Valley 195,216 General Law N A 3 $910,535* No
Riverside 306,779 Charter Y A 14 $3,451,041 No
Los Angeles County
Burbank 104,304 Charter Y A 11 $3,614,447 Yes
Compton 96,925 Charter N E 4 Not Online No
Culver City 38,973 Charter Y A 4 $1,779,809 No
Glendale 192,473 Charter Y A 13 $3720156* No
Hawthorne 84,854 General Law N A 3.6** $551,447 Yes
Inglewood 110,028 Charter N A 10** $2,342,133** Yes
Long Beach 463,894 Charter Y E 22 $8,585,107 No
Long Beach City Prosecutor Included Above Charter Y E 17 $4,824,978* Yes
Los Angeles 3,810,129 Charter Y E 444 $94,950,894* Yes
Palmdale 153,334 Charter N A 2 $3,988,760 No
Pasadena 138,915 Charter Y A 20 $6,467,000* Yes
Redondo Beach 66,970 Charter Y E 6 $2,496,915* Yes
Santa Monica 90,174 Charter Y A 24.5 $8,672331* Yes
Torrance 145,927 Charter Y A 6 $2,160,322* Yes
Orange
Anaheim 341,034 Charter Y A 23 $5,592,143 Yes
Huntington Beach 190,377 Charter Y E 7 $2,311,624* Some
Newport Beach 85,376 Charter Y A 5.7 $2,298,563.87*** No
Orange 136,995 General Law Y A 4 $1,411,049* No
Santa Ana 325,228 Charter Y A 8.5 $2,081,395* No
Ventura County
Oxnard 199,722 General Law Y A 5 $1,336,917* No
Simi Valley  125,026 General Law N A 4 $983,400* No
Thousand Oaks 127,557 General Law N A 4 $1,564,032* No
Ventura 107,124 Charter Y A 4 $1,711,112 No
San Diego County
Carlsbad 106,555 Charter Y A 4 $1,336,460* No
Chula Vista 246,496 Charter Y E 8 $2,271,182 No
Escondido 145,196 General Law Y A 7 $1,873,925 No
National City 58,785 General Law Y A 2.5 $703,760 No
Oceanside 168,173 Charter Y A 6 $1,535,860 No
San Diego 1,311,882 Charter Y E 147 $42,442,992* Yes
Vista 94,431 Charter N A 3 $1,011,603 No
Imperial
El Centro 43,145 Charter Y A 3** $588,772** No
* 2011-2012 Proposed
** 2010-2011 Adopted
*** Includes Outside Counsel budget

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

In-House City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I was recently speaking to an investigative journalist about in-house versus contract City Attorneys.   The journalist asked me if there were a list of in-house City Attorney’s Offices in California.   Upon review, there does not appear to be a list, though the League of California Cities does keep a list of all City/Town Attorneys in California.  So, I created  a list of in-house City Attorney’s Offices in Southern California:

City Name Pop. (2011 est.) City Form Full Service Elected/Appointed Name of City Attorney Tenure # Attorneys 2011-’12 Budget Prosecute State Law Misdemeanors?
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino 211,076 Charter Yes Elected James F. Penman 1987 10 $3,026,000* No
Redlands 69,231 General Law Yes Appointed Daniel J. McHugh 1994 1 $429,237* No
Riverside County
Moreno Valley 195,216 General Law No Appointed Robert Hansen 2010 3 $910,535* No
Riverside 306,779 Charter Yes Appointed Gregory Priamos 2001 14 $3,451,041 No
Los Angeles County
Burbank 104,304 Charter Yes Appointed Dennis Barlow 1997 11 $3,614,447 Yes
Compton 96,925 Charter No Elected Craig J. Cornwell 2008 4 Not Online No
Culver City 38,973 Charter Yes Appointed Carol Schwab 1997 4 $1,779,809 No
Glendale 192,473 Charter Yes Appointed Scott H. Howard 1990 13 $3720156* No
Hawthorne 84,854 General Law No Appointed Russell I. Miyahira 2009 3.6** $551,447 Yes
Inglewood 110,028 Charter No Appointed Cal P. Saunders 2006 10** $2,342,133** Yes
Long Beach 463,894 Charter Yes Elected Robert E. Shannon 1998 22 $8,585,107 No
Long Beach City Prosecutor Included Above Charter Yes Elected Doug Haubert 2010 17 $4,824,978* Yes
Los Angeles 3,810,129 Charter Yes Elected Carmen Trutanich 2009 444 $94,950,894* Yes
Palmdale 153,334 Charter No Appointed Wm. Matthew Ditzhazy 1994 2 $3,988,760 No
Pasadena 138,915 Charter Yes Appointed Michele Beal Bagneris 1997 20 $6,467,000* Yes
Redondo Beach 66,970 Charter Yes Elected Michael W. Webb 2005 6 $2,496,915* Yes
Santa Monica 90,174 Charter Yes Appointed Marsha Jones Moutrie 1993 24.5 $8,672331* Yes
Torrance 145,927 Charter Yes Appointed John L. Fellowes III 1993 6 $2,160,322* Yes
Orange
Anaheim 341,034 Charter Yes Appointed Cristina Talley 2009 23 $5,592,143 Yes
Huntington Beach 190,377 Charter Yes Elected Jennifer McGrath 2002 7 $2,311,624* Some
Newport Beach 85,376 Charter Yes Appointed David R. Hunt 2008 5.7 $2,298,563.87*** No
Orange 136,995 General Law Yes Appointed David A. DeBerry 4 $1,411,049* No
Santa Ana 325,228 Charter Yes Appointed Joe Straka 2011 8.5 $2,081,395* No
Ventura County
Oxnard 199,722 General Law Yes Appointed Alan Holmberg 2008 5 $1,336,917* No
Simi Valley  125,026 General Law No Appointed Tracy M. Noonan 2009 4 $983,400* No
Thousand Oaks 127,557 General Law No Appointed Amy Albano 4 $1,564,032* No
Ventura 107,124 Charter Yes Appointed Ariel P. Calonne 2007 4 $1,711,112 No
San Diego County
Carlsbad 106,555 Charter Yes Appointed Ronald R. Ball 4 $1,336,460* No
Chula Vista 246,496 Charter Yes Elected Glen R. Googins 2010 8 $2,271,182 No
Escondido 145,196 General Law Yes Appointed Jeffrey R. Epp 1996 7 $1,873,925 No
National City 58,785 General Law Yes Appointed Claudia Silva 2010 2.5 $703,760 No
Oceanside 168,173 Charter Yes Appointed John P. Mullen 2006 6 $1,535,860 No
San Diego 1,311,882 Charter Yes Elected Jan Goldsmith 2008 147 $42,442,992* Yes
Vista 94,431 Charter No Appointed Darold Pieper 2005 3 $1,011,603 No
Imperial
El Centro 43,145 Charter Yes Appointed Luis F. Hernandez 2008 3** $588,772** No
* 2011-2012 Proposed
** 2010-2011 Adopted
*** Includes Outside Counsel budget

I define Southern California in this case as Imperial, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

It can be difficult to directly compare cities and City Attorney’s Offices directly.  The difficulty is that different cities use different accounting.  For example, Newport Beach places the outside counsel directly in its budget.  Some cities use a Risk Management/liability account to pay for outside counsel.  Other differences are whether the city prosecutes State law misdemeanors, which increases the size of the budget and the number of attorneys.  One City offset the budget with internal fund transfers.  I just added them together to get the budgeted amount.  Long Beach has both an elected City Attorney and an elected City Prosecutor, which I have listed separately.  The population figures are  the January 2011 estimates from the California Department of Finance.  There  are a variety of definitions of “full service.”  For the purposes of this list, I define “full service” as having both a Fire Department and a Police Department.

I tried to use equivalent data.  However, some cities have not adopted 2011-2012 budgets, so I used the proposed budget if available, and the 2010-2011 Adopted budget if neither the FY 12 adopted or proposed budget was available online.  Also, some full service cities are more full service than others.  For example, Redlands has both an airport and a landfill, while San Bernardino has neither, but San Bernardino is about three times as big as Redlands in population.  Some full service cities do not have any utilities, while others have solid waste, water and electricity.  The coastal cities have harbors and have to deal with the Coastal Commission.  As far as complexity, I would imagine that the City and County of San Francisco as a the only Charter City and County in California, as well as having its own transit system, would be the most complex City in the State.

The data came mostly from the City’s website.  Sometimes, the number of attorneys comes from the City Attorney’s website, sometimes from the adopted or proposed budget, sometimes from the State Bar’s website (though it is more difficult to do than in the past), and the State Controller’s compensation website.  The determination whether the City is a Charter or General Law City comes from the list maintained by the League of California Cities.  The names of City Attorneys comes from an August 2011 list from the City Attorney’s division of the League of California Cities, and checked against the internet.  The year the City Attorneys were appointed or elected came from a variety of internet sources, such as newspaper archives, Google, or the City’s website. I couldn’t find two.  I counted from the initial appointment (including interim appointments).  I derived the data about which cities have in-house City Attorney’s Offices from Google searches cross-checked against the League’s list of City Attorneys.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

City of Riverside’s City Clerk Online Public Records

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.
Finding a municipal record can be difficult even for in-house municipal lawyers. When I was Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands and a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, I would have to go to, email or call the City Clerk’s Office for someone to manually pull the needed document.

Luckily, progressive cities are putting more and more documents online.  This is a good practice because it allows both staff and the public to pull up public records without having to waste staff time retrieving the record.

The City of Riverside has such a system, which I stumbled upon looking for a Government Claim form from the City.  As an aside, I called the City’s 311 call center and they said the Government Claim Form is not available online.  They agreed to email me one.

The City of Riverside record database is available here.   The available folders are: Administration, Agendas, Boards and Commissions, Chaindex, City Council/Agency Reports, Contracts/Agreements, Covenants and Agreements, Deed Chaindex, Deed Outs, Deeds, Discussion Session, Elections, Fiscal, General Plan 2025 Program, Insurance, Minutes, Miscellaneous, Ordinances, Purchase Orders, Resolutions, Upcoming Public Hearings.

The Agendas go back to 1997.  The oldest deed that I could find was from 1955.  The earliest Agreement is from 1960.  Minutes date back to incorporation in 1883, Ordinances to 1907 (dating to the new series Ordinance 1).

There are many fascinating documents, including the Incorporation document from 1883.    Of course, the City of Riverside was then in San Bernardino County, so the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors was William F. Holcomb, first elected to the position in 1882.  Both his grandson and great-grandson would become mayors of San Bernardino.

So, you can’t get the Government Claim form online (I would suggest that someone who needs a claim form call 311, the City emailed it to me), but you can get a whole host of other documents that have a variety of uses.

[Update September 29, 2011]

San Bernardino also has such a system, which I stumbled upon while looking at Gigi Hanna’s website.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055
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