Building Owners and Managers Association

Improving the Performance of the Commercial Real Estate Industry
Ban On Ex Parte Communications
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
by: Matthew Hargrove, BOMA California

Section: Association Business

SB 1190 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) seeks to ban ex parte communications with Coastal Commission and staff.  Prior to the early 1990s, the law was silent on ex parte communications at the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Act was then amended to explicitly allow commissioners to engage in ex parte communications as long as they disclose them and give written materials provided to them to commission staff.
Commissioners are currently free to speak with anyone on any side of an issue and they often do. Additionally, applicants are required to provide written disclosures to the Commission of anyone who receives compensation to communicate with the commissioners or staff. Commissioners are also required to complete annual economic interest statements in conformance with state law. This ex parte process has been working well for a number of years. There is no reason to eliminate this well-functioning system by banning important ex parte communications and communications between commissioners and their staff.
This bill would prohibit ex parte communications between commissioners and interested parties on all Commission proceedings. However, the Commission is a public body and should encourage citizen participation and communication. In turn, the Legislature should encourage maximum communication with the Commission, and commissioners who desire more information should be allowed to hear it as long as they publicly disclose and describe those communications as required by law. Although this bill would allow interested parties to speak with staff, it is the commissioners and not the staff who are the ultimate policy makers and who should be free to discuss permitting decisions with all parties who may be affected by an action.
There is no reason to change the current practice. To limit the free exchange of information serves no public purpose, can limit mutually acceptable outcomes, and would prohibit the Commission from effectively carrying out its duties to the public.  We are strongly opposed.
Post a Comment