Somach Simmons and Dunn, Attorneys at Law Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

October 29, 2019  |  Written by Alexis K. Stevens and J. Palmer Hilton

Is Your District’s Website Ready for January 1, 2020?

Beginning January 1, 2020, all special districts in California must maintain a website.  Does your district have a website?  If so, does it comply with the new statutory requirements?  Keep reading to find out.

Senate Bill 929 was enacted in 2018 and added section 53087.8 to the Government Code.  The statute mandates that all independent special districts maintain a website beginning January 1, 2020 that clearly lists the district’s contact information, in addition to complying with all previous provisions of law applicable to special district websites.

To whom does the law apply?  The law applies to all special districts in California, except those with a legislative body consisting of ex officio members who are officers of a county or another local agency.

Does my district’s website comply with the law?  The website must list the contact information for the district, as well as comply with other applicable laws.  Other requirements include: (1) posting the time and location of regular board meetings; (2) posting agendas in advance of meetings with a link to the most recent agenda provided on the website home page; (3) posting or providing links to the district’s most recent financial transactions and compensation reports provided to the State Controller; (4) if public records are posted on the website they must be in a format that is retrievable, downloadable, indexable, and searchable; and (5) the website must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  For districts that already maintain a website, the only new requirement is that it include contact information.

Are there any exemptions to compliance?  Yes.  The law provides a “hardship” exemption.  A district qualifies for the exemption if, pursuant to a majority vote of its governing body at a regular meeting, the district adopts a resolution declaring its determination that a hardship exists that prevents the district from establishing or maintaining a website.  The resolution must include detailed findings, based upon evidence set forth in the minutes of the meeting.  These findings may include inadequate access to broadband communications network facilities that enable high-speed internet access, significantly limited financial resources, or insufficient staff resources.  Importantly, the resolution is only valid for one year and must be adopted annually so long as the hardship exists.

For additional information on this topic, please contact Alexis K. Stevens at astevens@somachlaw.com or Palmer Hilton at philton@somachlaw.com or by telephone at (916) 446-7979.

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