Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF)This webpage is an ongoing open source project. If you have corrections or additions please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Thank You.
If you do not live in a city or county with a Sunshine Ordinance or an administrative remedy like a Task Force, you will have to take your complaint to your county superior court. The courts ask that you exhaust all administrative complaint procedures before your bring a complaint to the courts.
This webpage is based on the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.
ALL RECORDS SENT TO SOTF ARE PUBLIC AND CAN BE REQUESTED OR SEEN BY ANYONE.
California Public Access Laws that the SOTF Considers
Composition of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and Supporting Members
Communicating with SOTF
Preparing a Complaint
Being Anonymous During a Hearing
Number of Complaints that can be Filed
SOTF’s Complaint Procedures can be found here
What is Required for a SOTF Complaint?
SOTF “P numbers”
How and Where to File a SOTF Complaint
Procedures Before a SOTF Hearing
Before the SOTF Hearings
Petitioner/Complainant Presence at Hearings
Dress Code for a SOTF Hearing
Conduct at SOTF Hearing (SOTF Bylaws and Complaint Procedures)
Scheduling of Complaints at Hearings
Initial 3 person SOTF Committee Hearing
Agenda for SOTF Committees or Full SOTF Agenda - Accessing all Records that have been Submitted for a Complaint including the Respondent
Participating in Hearings in Person or via Phone
Vote to Pass a Motion
Order of Determination
If the SOTF Motion Passes in Favor of the Complainant, (Violation Found)
If the SOTF Motion is Unfavorable to the Complainant, (Violation Not Found or No Motion)
Reconsideration of Task Force Findings (Appeal)
Taking Your Complaint to Your County Superior Court
Knowledgeable Respondent (Oath)
Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Authority Under the Sunshine Ordinance (SFSO § 67.21(e), 67.30 (c)) and San Francisco Administrative Code 12L.5
Picture of Hearing Room
Education, Outreach, and Training Committee
Compliance & Amendments Committee
SOTF Hearing "Transcripts" (Microsoft Teams Auto Transcripts) Links to Agenda, Minutes and Archived
Compliance & Amendments Committee
Education, Outreach, and Training Committee
Information Technology Committee (also known as Technology Committee)
Special or Ad Hoc Committees
California Public Access Laws that the SOTF ConsidersSan Francisco Sunshine Ordinance, California Public Records Act, the Ralph M. Brown Act and San Francisco Administrative Code. 12L.5. (certain non-profits) applying to local agencies, public officials, departments, commissions, committees, task forces, entities and non-profits in the city and county of San Francisco as defined in the previously mention public access laws. (also see jurisdiction on this webpage)
Composition of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and Supporting MembersThe Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF) is a 11 member (voting) task force of the city of San Francisco. It is made up of volunteers.
The Mayor can have a non-voting task force member representative at hearings. (Rare)
The Clerk of the Board of Supervisors can be there as or a designated representative, non-voting. SFSO § 67.30. and 67.31(see below). This is known as the SOTF Administrator. People filing a complaint will have interactions with this person.
The City Attorney’s Office assigns an attorney as a legal advisor to SOTF who has experience with public access laws. There is an “ethical wall” around this attorney “Task Force determines may have a conflict of interest with regard to the matters being handled by the attorney.” There are currently 2 SOTF attorneys.
It is spell out in:
Sunshine Ordinance § 67.30. THE SUNSHINE ORDINANCE TASK FORCE
TOP SFSO § 67.31 RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADMINISTRATION
Communicating with SOTFThere is really only two ways to get a response from SOTF , file a complaint or a Public Record Request. Action or discussion of requests or issues cannot take place outside of scheduled public hearings. Outside of hearings, SOTF members can only talk in generalities of California public access laws and not specifics of any complaint.
If you file a complaint, all communications are put in the complaint file.
General communication that are directed at SOTF or cc:ed get logged and listed in the SOTF Administrators Report for possible review at regularly scheduled meetings. If requested and at the discretion of the SOTF Chair, communications can be forwarded to members of SOTF. A request to forward must be stated in the communications. Forwarding is not preferred since all decisions must be made in full view of the public.
Preparing a Complaint
Combined ComplaintsThe simpler your complaint is the better chance of success. If you have multiple issues with one local agency or department, there is a good chance they will be combined as one complaint by SOTF.
The following criteria shall be used to determine if complaints should be combined for hearing purposes:
• Same Complainant and Respondent
• Same Complaint and/or Administrative Codes Section in question
• Issues or violations must be within 90 days of submission of the initial complaint
SOTF will not combine complaints against separate local agencies or departments, even if the issue(s) of the complaints are the same. Each complaint only gets a 5 minutes opening statement and a 3 minute rebuttal with the possibility of questions.
Combined complaints or more complex complaints rely on members of SOTF to read your complaint and ask questions to get to the bottom of issues. The more evidence or communications you put in a complaint, the less likely it will be read by SOTF members. You can bury your most important points and records.
Common Complaints ViolationsCPRA § 6253. (a) and SFSO § 67.21. (a) both deal with segregated content from records also known as redaction.
CPRA § 6253 (c) and SFSO § 67.21. (b) Department, “local agency” or Custodian of Records has 10 days to respond to a public record request as to whether there are records that are responsive to the public record request and/ or records that are subject to withholding. They can ask for an extension of up to 14 days. “the agency shall state the estimated date and time when the records will be made available.”
CPRA § 6253.1 (a-d) and SFSO § 67.21 (c) the public agency or Custodian of Record must assist the requester to be successful. Identifiable records, other agency.
What records are disclosable or not violations covers large section of CA public record laws and depends on multiple factors.
SFSO § 67.22 (a) “a person or persons knowledgeable about the affairs of the department, to provide information,”
SFSO § 67.25 (a) “Immediate Disclosure Request” no later than the close of business on the day following the day of the request.
SFSO § 67.26 Withholding Kept to a Minimum
Any part of California public access laws can be used as a violation CA Constitution, Article I, Section 3, California Public Records Act, the Ralph M. Brown Act, and the Sunshine Ordinance. Links to them can be found here.
The other issue in preparing a complaint is jurisdiction issues. In most cases this is not a problem if it is city department or city local agency and the violation is one of the California public access laws. State departments and local agencies are not under the jurisdiction of SOTF. More on jurisdiction will be covered below. Also See Webage on Jurisdiction
You can File a Complaint AnonymouslyPeople should seriously consider being anonymous, especially if your complaint is controversial or you plan on doing this for a period of time.
To submit an anonymous complaint, you use the word “Anonymous” as your name. You must make sure that any records you submit are not traceable back to you and the information on the records do not have information that would reveal who you are. This includes contact information.
You cannot use an alias other than “Anonymous”.
Being Anonymous During a HearingPresenting a complaint at a hearing as an Anonymous can happen by calling in. Realize that using a telephone number that displays your name or can be traced back to you will compromise your anonymity. There are different levels of anonymity in using a phone or phone number.
You should at least change your phones ID name. Your phone ID name does not have to be “Anonymous”. I can be any or none name. While to file a complaint with SOTF requires you to use your real name or Anonymous, it is not a requirement on phone identification.
All smart phones today come with the feature to Block Caller ID. It will change your cell phone to block caller ID, Anonymous Call, Anonymous Dialing or Unknown Number will always be displayed on the receiver call whenever you call them.
In settings on an Android Phone, go to Caller ID, tap, and select “Hide Number”.
Some carriers allow you to temporary hide your number on a call by call basis by using a prefix like #37, *67 or *37# though a carrier may have its own designated prefix. The prefix is dialed in followed by the telephone number.
Carriers can hide your caller ID permanently. There may be a charge. In this case, to unblock your number on a case-by-case basis, you will have to add a prefix like *82 or one your carrier provides before dialing the telephone number.
To block caller ID on an iPhone Settings, Phone, Show my caller ID and slide to Off.
Open source software https://www.asterisk.org/ or https://freeswitch.com/ and almost any VOIP company you can spoof calls with minimal costs and effort.
There are also other spoofing call commercial services.
Number of Complaints that can be FiledThere is no limit to the number of complaints that can be filed on different issues or against different local agencies. Only 2 complaints from a Petitioner/Complainant will be heard at any one hearing. At their discretion, the SOTF Chair or the SOTF Committees can exceed the maximum number of complaints per Petitioner/Complainant per hearing.
SOTF’s Complaint Procedures can be found here
What is Required for a SOTF Complaint?Short and concise description of the facts: (i.e. a description of documents requested, date of request, and any information regarding the agency’s response). The name of the Department where the request was submitted. Any individual working at the agency who the public records request or violation involves. Here you can also include contact information or the meeting details if it involves a meeting. If you do not provide specifics of people involved in the violation, SOTF lists the department head.
A description of how the action or inaction violates the Sunshine Ordinance.
Supporting documentation, if applicable, such as a copy of the public record request to department and or any response from the department. Provide at least one reliable method of contacting the Petitioner/Complainant (i.e. email address, mailing address or telephone number). If your complaint does not include the above minimum as stated above, SOTF will try to contact you for the additional information.
Complaint FormsYou are not required to use SOTF’s complaint form.
File the complaint in any form you want, but it must have the above requirements. The clearer you are, the better.
I have developed my own complaint forms in order to be clearer on the complaint components. I have experienced SOTF not reading their own complaint form as to what you think are the violations. I think the more you spell things out, the better. Not all violations are public record request violations and SOTF form and procedures are oriented for public record request violations, making it trickier if the violations or jurisdiction is outside the norm.
This a simple MS Word docx, so you can expand the input areas to what you need. For clarity, it covers more input area subjects than SOTF complaint forms. Click Here
The upside to using a pleading paper is that it is formatted for easy reading. It is numbered in different ways to allow for indexing and referring to other parts of the document. Along with the use of exhibit numbers, you can create your own number index environment in the complaint instead of SOTF “P numbers”.
SOTF’s Complaint Forms can be found here:
Online Complaint Form
pdf Complaint Form
SOTF “P numbers”SOTF task force members use “P numbers” to identify records. They do not use pdf page numbers. So when you download an agenda item or your complaint from a SOTF agenda it will come as a pdf, but the “P numbers” are what matters to the task force. The “P numbers are on the bottom of the pages. They increment up for the entire year and not from the first page of a complaint.
How and Where to File a SOTF ComplaintA complaint may be submitted to the SOTF via mail, fax, electronic mail (e-mail), or in person.
E-mail is probably the best way and ask for a "received" reply. It is important to keep a paper/e-mail trail on all Public Record Request and SOTF Complaints.
Mail Address or In Person: (City Hall is Currently Closed to the Public)
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102-4689
Business Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Except Legal Holidays)
Telephone: (415) 554-7724
Fax: (415) 554-5163
Procedures Before a SOTF HearingThe SOTF Administrator may attempt to mediate the request. If the mediation does not work it, you may be advised to file a petition with the Supervisor of Records (an attorney with the City Attorney’s Office), supervisor.records@SFCITYATTY.ORG, which is covered at the end of the How to Make a Public Record Request webpage. The complaint must have the approval of the SOTF Chairperson, ensuring that the complaint is not a duplicative of previous complaints or subject. While SOTF maintains all records of previous hearings, they are not index to subject and outcomes, so it looks like the approval comes from memory. This part is problematic if you are denied. You can then take your complaint to your county Superior Court. (SFSO § 67.35 covered at the end of this webpage.)
When your petition is accepted by SOTF, it will get a file number. The petitioner is supposed to be informed as soon as possible or within 2 days after SOTF next meeting but in no case greater than 45 days (SFSO § 67.21(e)) You should also get from the SOTF Administrator the SOTF complaint procedures.
SFSO § 67.21
and mentioned in the complaint procedures "8 Continuances:(a) A complainant may waive the 45-day rule and request a continuance."
The problem with the 45 day rule is that it seems only to be about determining whether a record is public or not. It does not seem to apply to hearing a complaint or an appeal, especially if it is not a public record determination. Many other violations of the Sunshine Ordinance or Brown Act are not determination of records being public. I have had an appeal open for about 2 years. The whole 45 day "inform the petitioner" is fuzzy. There is no clear spelled out timeline except for the above 45 days. All but public record determinations seem to be open-ended.
The complainant may ask for a continuance and waive the 45-day rule. If the request is receive before five business days before the scheduled hearing, it will be granted. Less than five business days before a hearing or for subsequent continuances, the request requires a simple majority vote of member present.
If the respondent has not been informed of your complaint yet, SOTF sends a written notice of the complaint and requests that the respondent respond to the charges with 5 business days.
The SOTF Deputy City Attorney(s) reviews the complaint and prepares a legal memorandum to assist the SOTF members in understanding the laws and court cases around the issues of the complaint.
SFSO § 67.21. PROCESS FOR GAINING ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS; ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS. (Below under SOTF Authority)
Before the SOTF Hearings.In a normal procedure there are two hearings, a committee hearing and a hearing before the full SOTF.
Agendas/Submission of New InformationBefore each hearing, the SOTF administrator sends out agendas (pdf) for hearings on the committee level and full SOTF 12 days before the hearing. Your hearing and file number will be listed. A message at the bottom of the agenda states:
Documentation (evidence supporting/disputing complaint)
For a document to be considered, it must be received at least five (5) working days before the hearing (see attached Public Complaint Procedure). For inclusion in the agenda packet, supplemental/supporting documents must be received by 5:00 pm, month date, year.
You and the respondent can submit more supporting documents or evidence before each hearing.
After this time period, you will not be able to submit anymore documents for SOTF consideration, except if you are at your first preliminary committee level hearing, you will be able to submit documents before the full SOTF hearing in the time frame as stated above.
Petitioner/Complainant RepresentationThe Petitioner/Complainant can have a knowledgeable person represent them at SOTF hearings. The Petitioner/Complainant must give SOTF a signed letter allowing the representative with the person’s name, a statement that the representative is authorized to represent the Petitioner/Complainant and the complaint file number. SOTF reserves the right to verify information.
Petitioner/Complainant Presence at HearingsThe Petitioner/Complainant can make an initial appearance in person or phone at the first hearing and then authorize SOTF to proceed with future hearings on the complaint without them. The Petitioner/Complainant waives their right to provide testimony, and only prior submitted written documents will be considered. If a Petitioner/Complainant fails to appear before a SOTF hearing and does not communicate, their complaint may be dismissed. SOTF bends over backwards to facilitate the complaint process. The Petitioner/Complainant will be notified of the dismissal. The Petitioner/Complainant has 60 days to request in writing a reopening of the complaint.
If the Petitioner/Complainant is unable or refuses to attend a scheduled hearing on a specific date within 120 days, SOTF may schedule a hearing to consider taking no further action and close the complaint file.
The Petitioner/Complainant can also refile the complaint in the future, but SOTF and/or the SOTF chairperson can decide not to hear the complaint. The Petitioner/Complainant next option would be to go to the county superior court. (SFSO § 67.35 covered at the end of this webpage.)
Dress Code for a SOTF HearingThere is no dress code. It is best to dress as yourself and what you comfortable in.
Conduct at SOTF Hearing (SOTF Bylaws and Complaint Procedures)SOTF members are addressed as Mr. or Ms. and last name. Chairperson as Chairman or Chairwoman and last name.
Petitioner/Complainant or Respondent can be called Petitioner/Complainant or Respondent or Mr. or Ms. and last name.
Meetings of the Task Force shall be conducted in compliance with all applicable laws, including but not limited to the Ralph M. Brown Act (Government Code Section 54950 et. seq.), the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance (San Francisco Administrative Code, Chapter 67) and the Task Force’s By-Laws. Except where state or local laws or other rules provide to the contrary, meetings shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order.
Sound producing electronic devices shall be silenced during meetings of the Task Force. The Chair may issue a warning to any member of the public whose electronic device disrupts the Task Force meeting. In the event of repeated disruptions caused by pagers, cell phones or any sound producing device, the Chair shall direct the offending member of the public to leave the meeting.
People who attend a hearing of the SOTF are expected to behave responsibly and respectfully. Any member of SOTF may call for decorum due to disorderly conduct. Any person engaging in threatening or menacing behavior may be asked to leave.
Scheduling of Complaints at HearingsThe SOTF Chairperson determines scheduling of complaints through which committee and dates. This schedule for a complaint hearing is usually as soon as possible. If the date does not work for the Petitioner/Complainant or the respondent, SOTF has shown flexibility to reschedule.
Before all hearings, SOTF members hearing your complaint are supposed to be familiar with the complaint issues (read the complaint) and the SOTF Deputy City Attorney memorandum on the complaint. SOTF members are volunteers, so I find how prepared they actually varies.
Initial 3 person SOTF Committee HearingThe first hearing of your complaint will most likely be a 3-member SOTF committee. Both the Petitioner/Complainant and respondent(s) (or a knowledgeable representative) must attend the committee hearing. The committee will determine jurisdiction and merits of the complaint. The committee will give the full SOTF a report and or recommendation.
***It is really important for the petitioner to understand that the initial committee hearing is a determination of jurisdiction and merits of their complaint. Jurisdiction is usually straightforward if it is a city department or official. It is based on definitions found in The Brown Act (most powerful definitions), CPRA and the Sunshine Ordinance. More on jurisdiction will be covered below. Also See Webage on Jurisdiction
Merits of your complaint go to a violation of any of the public access laws. The committees often state whether records are public or not, but they should be stating whether there is a possible violation of public access laws as not all complaints are about public records. Stating that the records are public is an inference that there is a possible violation.
For the petitioner this is also a good time to listen to what the other side, the respondent says and this will prepare you for rebutting their arguments at the full SOTF.
Agenda for SOTF Committees or Full SOTF Accessing all Records that have been Submitted for a Complaint including the Respondent4-5 days before the hearing, the SOTF clerk sends out another agenda (pdf). This agenda looks similar to the previous one but if you click on your file name or anywhere in the description of your complaint, it will take you to a link to a pdf of the complaint and all documents that have been submitted for that file for your hearing. The file pdf will include any rebuttal statement or document from the recipient of the complaint, your (the petitioner) statement and documents, and the SOTF attorney’s analysis of the complaint.
You can do this for any other file number of other people’s hearings and past similar agendas in the SOTF archive.
Participating in Hearings in Person or via Phone***During the COVID 19, all hearings are conducted over the phone. You are calling into SOTF Microsoft Team Meetings which has issues of its own. SOTF members can see each other. The public cannot.
Members of the public may participate by phone or may submit their comments by email to: Cheryl.Leger@sfgov.org; all comments received will be made a part of the official record. Sunshine Ordinance Task Force agendas and their associated documents are available at https://sfbos.org/sunshine. The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF) allows the public to speak or read for 3 minutes during their public comment section. They allow up to a 150 words to be submitted for their minutes whether you read the same words over 150 in the 3-minute public comment. You can submit both the full comment and the reduced 150 word brief written summary.
PETITIONER and PUBLIC COMMENT CALL IN
Meeting ID: # (get off the agenda)
***When you first call in, you are unmuted.*** To mute yourself - *6 (star 6). You should hear “You are now muted” message. To unmute yourself - *6 (star 6) again. Beware, there is a delay of time when you mute or unmute yourself.
The in person hearings when scheduled are at: (City Hall is Currently Closed to the Public)
Hearing Room 408
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102-4689
Even when in person hearings are scheduled you can still participate by phone.
HearingsMeetings shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order. (SOTF Bylaws)
No one is under oath. There is no cross-examination of statement and witnesses. Any questioning relies on the curiosity of SOTF members.
On addressing SOTF as a whole, it is better to call them “the task force” than try to stumble through the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force or SOTF.
Complaint Comment and Deliberation Procedures for SOTF Committees and full SOTF hearings (The following is based on the SOTF Bylaws)When your complaint is called, the Petitioner/Complainant gets a 5 minute opening statement. Anyone speaking on behalf of Petitioner/Complainant speaks next and gets 3 minutes.
Then the Respondent gets a 5 minute opening statement and anyone speaking on behalf of the Respondents gets 3 minutes.
The people speaking on behalf of either side this is the only time they will get to speak on the complaint unless a SOTF member asks them a question. They cannot speak later at the Public Comment time on the complaint.
SOTF members then discuss the complaint or ask questions to either side.
Next, the Respondent then the Petitioner/Complainant each get 3 more minutes to rebut, add information and make a closing argument.
The complaint goes back to the task force members for deliberation and a motion(s).
Public Comment is then allowed by anyone who has not spoken on the complaint. (Each agenda item also the public to make one 3-minute comment on the issues of the agenda item.)
The task force members then vote on a motion to either find a violation, find no violation, or to take no further action and close the file.
TacticsThe opening Petitioner/Complainant 5 minutes statement and going first is a shot in the dark because you have no idea where the hearing and deliberations are going to go. I have found that Respondent and people speaking on behalf of the Respondent can go on all sorts of tangents and derail the hearing in other directions. If the Petitioner/Complainant is not asked questions, then the Petitioner/Complainant only has 3 minutes to address it all at the end.
People speaking in support of the Petitioner/Complainant in the 3 minutes after the Petitioner/Complainant opening statement is almost always a waste of time, as these people could speak during the Public Comment time and try to clean up any messes before the final vote.
Vote to Pass a MotionSOTF Bylaws Section 7. Action at a Meeting; Quorum and Required Vote.
SOTF Bylaws Section 7 has a line that states “The affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Task Force (six) shall be required for the approval of all substantive matters. Procedural matters shall require an affirmative vote of a majority of the members present.”
Substantive matters are jurisdiction and complaint determinations of SOTF. The six votes is the affirmative are needed no matter the number of SOTF members present. If less than eleven members (the full SOTF) are present, then this reduces the chance of getting six votes in the affirmative. When all eleven members of SOTF are present, you will get a majority of votes either way.
Order of DeterminationIf a motion of the SOTF finds in violation or no violation and Order of Determination is issued by the SOTF Chair.
An Order of Determination will have the date of the determination and date of the decision (vote of SOTF), Case Title, Facts of the Case, Hearing on the Complaint, Finding of Facts and Conclusion of Law, Decision and Order of Determination and how then SOTF members voted.
The Order of Determination is an opinion of SOTF as an advisory task force. Because the way the hearings are conducted and no one is under oath and there is no cross-examination of statements, the “Finding of Facts and Conclusion of Law” can be limited and not based on actual or all the facts.
If the SOTF Motion Passes in Favor of the Complainant, (Violation Found)SOTF orders the Custodian of Records to turn over the records within five business days or if it is a non-record violation to correct the violation in five business days(?).
The Compliance and Amendments Committee shall review whether there has been compliance with the Order of Determination.
This part of the Sunshine Ordinance (SFSO § 67.21. (e)) and SOTF procedures is broken:
3. If appropriate, the respondent and complainant shall be sent a notice that the District Attorney, California Attorney General, Board of Supervisors and Ethics Commission have been contacted, and of the complainant’s independent right to pursue the issue in court.
If the SOTF Motion is Unfavorable to the Complainant, (Violation Not Found or No Motion)
Reconsideration of Task Force Findings (Appeal)With 30 days of publication/issuance of the Order of Determination, either the petitioner/complainant or respondent may petition the SOTF for reconsideration only if information exists that was not available at the time of the hearing. The petitioning party must present the new information and provide a written explanation as to how the new information may change the SOTF’s determination. The SOTF will accept no more than one request for reconsideration from each party for any specific complaint.
SOTF or its committees shall consider petition for reconsideration at its next available meeting and determine if new information exist, is relevant and may change the outcome of the complaint. If a petition for reconsideration is granted, the hearing on the complaint will be reopened and rescheduled for hearing before the SOTF on a future date to consider the new information.
Reconsideration Hearing Procedure:
b. The SOTF’s previous vote to find violation shall be considered rescinded with a vote pending action.
c. The requester of the reconsideration shall be provided five (5) minutes to provide testimony as to how the new information provided will affect the decision of the SOTF.
d. The opposing parties will be provided five (5) minutes to provide testimony regarding the new information provided.
NOTE: Testimony should be limited to the submitted new information.
e. The SOTF may perform one of the follow actions based upon the new information submitted by the petitioner:
i. Move to revote on the original motion without changes
ii. Move to substitute a motion with a different action
h. If the actions of the SOTF changes, a Revised Order of Determination will be issued. An additional Orders of Determination will not be issued by the SOTF if their decision is unchanged.
Taking Your Complaint to Your County Superior CourtThere will be a whole webpage devoted to this.
In short, you have 90 days to file for injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or writ of mandate with your county Superior Civil Court. (SFOS § 67.35) Who you file it against depends on the violation and who is making the decision. It can be the “local agency”, city department or against SOTF. Even if SOTF is not the defendant, the Order of Determination will probably be submitted as an authoritative advisory opinion.
With the courts, all things submitted have to be true to the best of a person's knowledge. If there is a hearing, people are under oath.
SFSO § 67.35 ENFORCEMENT PROVISIONS
(b) A court shall award costs and reasonable attorneys' fees to the plaintiff who is the prevailing party in an action brought to enforce this Ordinance.
(c) If a court finds that an action filed pursuant to this section is frivolous, the City and County may assert its rights to be paid its reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
(d) Any person may institute proceedings for enforcement and penalties under this act in any court of competent jurisdiction or before the Ethics Commission if enforcement action is not taken by a City or State official 40 days after a complaint is filed.
JurisdictionJurisdiction issues are not violation issues but can stop a complaint from proceeding through the SOTF process. One of the first determinations SOTF does is determine whether they have jurisdiction over a “local agency” or violation. Jurisdiction revolves around definitions in the CPRA, SFSO and the Brown Act. The Sunshine Ordinance incorporates all of CPRA and the Brown Act. The CPRA incorporates some of the Brown Act definitions. Of the three CA public access laws, the Brown Act has the most expansive and strongest definitions of what government entities are covered under CA public access laws. Also See Webage on Jurisdiction
If you feel that the agency you are alleging a violation against may come under the question of jurisdiction, it is good to go into the SOTF committee with the definition that supports the agency inclusion as to under SOTF jurisdiction. Court case law can also help.
Knowledgeable RespondentRespondent should be a knowledgeable person on the issue of the complaint.
Sunshine Ordinance Sec 67.22 Release of oral public information shall be accomplished as follows:
Knowledgeable is a key word.
In my opinion, if SOTF determines that the designated representative is not fully knowledgeable or none appears at a hearing then you should not vote or issue an Order of Determination for the city. Each hearing, SOTF is also asking for the public record.
SOTF hearings and documents become public record. Transparency of government relies on records and oral information to be accurate and true. While there is no swearing to an oath, SFSO § 67.22 “Release of oral public information” is an oath of the respondent to a commitment to tell the truth, if not than the purpose of Sunshine laws becomes meaningless. This oath idea has not been tested.
SOTF cannot force knowledgeable city employees to appear before you, but if they do not you can vote that the city has violated 67.22(a). The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force does now ask if the City’s Respondent before them is knowledgeable about the complaint and if not finds that City’s Department in violation of 67.22(a).
Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Authority Under the Sunshine Ordinance (SFSO § 67.21(e), 67.30 (c)) and San Francisco Administrative Code 12L.5SFSO § 67.21.
SFSO § 67.30
San Francisco Administrative Code. 12L.5. PUBLIC ACCESS TO RECORDS.
ARTICLE VI. COMMITTEES. (SOTF By Laws)
Section 1. Standing Committees. The Task Force may form standing committees to advise the Task Force on its on-going functions, hold hearings, make recommendations, and perform delegated tasks. The standing committees shall be composed of less than a quorum of members of the Task Force. The Chair of the Task Force shall appoint or remove the Chair and members of the Standing Committees. The Task Force shall establish the following Standing Committees: Rules Committee; Education, Outreach and Training Committee; Complaints Committee; and Compliance & Amendments Committee.
(b) Education, Outreach, and Training Committee. The Education, Outreach and Training Committee may monitor compliance with the Orders of Determination adopted by the Task Force, maintain an ongoing education and training program for City employees and the public, and make recommendations to the Task Force regarding outreach and publicity to the media. In addition, the Education, Outreach and Training Committee shall schedule hearings on complaints to review jurisdiction and the merits of the complaint in order to provide recommendations to the Full Task Force.
(c) Complaint Committee. The Complaint Committee shall monitor the complaint process and make recommendations to the Task Force regarding how the complaints should be handled. The Complaint Committee shall schedule hearings on complaints to review jurisdiction and the merits of the complaint in order to provide recommendations to the Full Task Force.
(d) Compliance & Amendments Committee. The Compliance and Amendments Committee may monitor compliance with the Orders of Determination adopted by the Task Force, monitor changes in state law and court decisions affecting access to public meetings and records, and make recommendations to the Task Force regarding amendments to the Sunshine Ordinance. In addition, the Compliance and Amendments Committee shall schedule hearings on complaints to review jurisdiction and the merits of the complaint in order to provide recommendations to the Full Task Force.
SOTF Hearing "Transcripts" (Microsoft Teams Auto Transcripts) Links to Agenda, Minutes and ArchivedThese are not legal transcripts. They allow for easier searches of audio recordings of hearings as they are time stamped. They allow also for word search. All records in word document (.docx) format as received from SOTF. Click on the date of the committee or full SOTF to download the transcript.
You can make corrections to the transcripts by listening to the audio and using a text program. There are transcription programs. Example: Transcribe https://transcribe.wreally.com/transcriptions It has both auto transcribe and self-transcription.
Audio links to each committee are below.
Agendas and Minutes links are provided below and Archive links to Agendas and Minutes which are really hard to find on the SOTF website.
Full Sunshine Ordinance Task ForceAudio Archive: Sunshine Ordinance Task Force: https://sfgov.org/sunshine/audio-archive-full-sotf
2022Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - 4:00pm
SOTF "Retreat Meeting" Special Meeting. Tuesday, January 25, 2022 - 6:30pm
Wednesday, February 2, 2022 - 4:00pm
Wednesday, March 2, 2022 - 4:00pm
Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 4:00pm
Wednesday, May 4, 2022 - 4:00pm
Older Archived Agendas and Minutes: https://sfgov.org/sunshine/ftp/meetingarchive/sunshine_full_task_force/meeting.aspx-page%3D5233%26subpage%3D2011.html
Complaint CommitteeAudio Archive: Complaint Committee: https://sfgov.org/sunshine/audio-archive-committees
2022Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 5:30pm
Tuesday, February 15, 2022 - 5:30pm
Tuesday, March 15, 2022 - 5:30pm
Tuesday, April 19, 2022 - 5:30pm
Older Archived Agendas and Minutes: https://sfgov.org/sunshine/ftp/meetingarchive/sunshine_complaint_committee/meeting.aspx-page%3D4954%26subpage%3D2011.html
Compliance & Amendments CommitteeAudio Archive: Compliance & Amendments Committee: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=98#compliance
2022Tuesday, January 25, 2022 - 4:30pm
Tuesday, February 22, 2022 - 4:30pm
Cancelled - Tuesday, March 22, 2022 - 4:30pm
Tuesday, April 27, 2022 - 4:30pm
Older Archived Agendas and Minutes: https://sfgov.org/sunshine/ftp/meetingarchive/sunshine_compliance_and_amendments/meeting.aspx-page%3D4465%26subpage%3D2011.html
Education Outreach and Training CommitteeAudio Archive: Education Outreach and Training Committee: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=98#education
2022Tuesday, January 11, 2022 - 5:30pm
Cancelled - Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 5:30pm
Tuesday, March 8, 2022 - 5:30pm
Cancelled - Tuesday, April 12, 2022 - 5:30pm
Older Archived Agendas and Minutes: https://sfgov.org/sunshine/ftp/meetingarchive/sunshine_edu_outreach_training/meeting.aspx-page%3D4759%26subpage%3D2011.html
Information Technology Committee (also known as Technology Committee)Audio Archive: Information Technology Committee: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=98#technology
Older Archived Agendas and Minutes: None
Rules CommitteeAudio Archive: Rules Committee: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=98#rules
2022None so far
Older Archived Agendas and Minutes: https://sfgov.org/sunshine/ftp/meetingarchive/sunshine_rules_committee/meeting.aspx-page%3D4660%26subpage%3D2011.html
Special or Ad Hoc Committee (also known as Ad Hoc Committee)Audio Archive: Special or Ad Hoc Committee: http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=98#adhoc
2022None so far
Older Archived Agendas and Minutes: https://sfgov.org/sunshine/sites/default/files/ftp/meetingarchive/BOS-Sunshine-AdHoc/meeting.aspx-page%3D5187%26subpage%3D2011.html