Because Neighborhood Councils are created by the Los Angeles City Charter, they are subject to many of the federal, state and local laws that govern other City departments. Every Neighborhood Council also has bylaws and other standing or procedural rules they follow, too. In addition, Neighborhood Councils must abide by laws preventing workplace violence, sexual harassment and discrimination.
The laws that apply to all Neighborhood Councils include the following:
Americans with Disabilities Act – A federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to the operations of state and local governments.
Brown Act – The Ralph M. Brown Act is a state law requiring open meetings from government agencies and applies to Neighborhood Council meetings.
Conflict of Interest Laws – Various state and city laws to ensure that government officials are free from bias caused by their own financial interest so they may act in an impartial manner.
Los Angeles City Charter – In 1999, the City Charter established the Neighborhood Council System and the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment which supports the Neighborhood Councils “to promote more citizen participation in government and make government more responsive to local needs…” Charter Section 900.
The Plan for a Citywide System of Neighborhood Councils – This Plan details the workings of the Neighborhood Council system.
Public Records Act – A state law providing the public access to government records. Neighborhood Councils must abide by a strict time line to respond to Public Records Act (PRA) requests.
The City Attorney’s Office provides legal advice on the Neighborhood Council system. The following documents provide clarification on various aspects of Neighborhood Council operations.
Legal Issues Training Manual
A manual prepared by the City Attorney’s Office in 2006 that covers the general legal issues affecting Neighborhood Councils.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Neighborhood Council meeting sites and operations are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Legal Opinion
Robert’s Rules of Order
Neighborhood Councils do not have to adopt and adhere to Robert’s Rules of Order. Legal Opinion
Neighborhood Councils may not further define the City Charter terms of “lives,” “works” or “owns property” in order to identify its stakeholders. Legal Opinion
Neighborhood Councils should not use a town hall style of governance. The town hall format should be used for only advisory recommendations that do not involve decisions to 1) hire staff, 2) enter into contracts for goods or services or make recommendations involving any City contract and 3) expend public funds on behalf of the Neighborhood Council. Legal Opinion
Ordinance 172728 -Created the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment following the passage of the City Charter.
Ordinance 176704 – Established regulations to implement the Plan for a Citywide System of Neighborhood Councils.
Ordinance 173184 – Created the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment Fund.
Ordinance 175937 – Transferred the responsibility for leasing and renting office and meeting space for Neighborhood Councils from the Department of General Services to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, thereby streamlining the acquisition of space for Neighborhood Councils.
Ordinance 176477 – Exempts Neighborhood Councils from adopting a conflict of interest code and filing the Form 700 financial disclosure statements.