Remote participation in meetings by board members
What is allowed and when under the Brown Act, AB 361 and AB 2449?
Person in a virtual meeting with others on laptop

In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued several executive orders that suspended many of the Brown Act requirements and allowed for board meetings to be conducted remotely. In September 2021, as the executive orders were set to expire and the COVID-19 pandemic carried on, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 361, which added to the Brown Act an option for fully remote meetings during a declared State of Emergency. Most recently, the Legislature passed AB 2449, which added a third remote meeting option with a distinct set of requirements.

All these requirements are similar yet distinct and can create confusion as to what option board members should use should they wish to participate in a meeting remotely. The following is a summary of the various requirements and timeframes for each option.

Traditional teleconferencing (current law)

Most of the Brown Act requirements for governing bodies’ meetings relate to in-person meetings; however, the act also has a series of requirements that has for decades allowed members to participate remotely through teleconferencing. Those “traditional teleconferencing” requirements include:

  • All votes shall be by rollcall.
  • The agenda for the meeting must be posted at all teleconference locations.
  • All teleconference locations must be identified in the notice and agenda.
  • All teleconference locations must be open to the public.
  • A quorum of the members must participate from locations within the boundaries of the local agency.
  • Public comment must be allowed at all locations.

AB 361 – State of Emergency option (current law, expires upon termination of any State of Emergency or Jan. 1, 2024)

AB 361 was passed in response to the ongoing pandemic and provided clarity for how public bodies could conduct remote meetings during a proclaimed State of Emergency. If a state of emergency is proclaimed, then the following actions may be taken to allow for fully remote meetings without following the traditional teleconferencing requirements:

  • The board must make a factual determination that there is a state of emergency.
  • The board must also make a factual determination that there is an imposed requirement of social distancing or that in-person meetings create an imminent risk to the health and safety of attendees.

Once these actions are taken, governing bodies may meet remotely without following the traditional teleconferencing requirements. However, other Brown Act requirements such as those related to posting notice and agendas are still required. For more information, see CSBA’s Q&A that further describes the requirement for remote meetings under AB 361, as well as a sample resolution for the required factual findings (

AB 2449 – Specific circumstances option (effective Jan. 1, 2023, and expires Jan. 1, 2026)
The Governor signed AB 2449 in September 2022. The purpose of the bill was in part to “ensure minimum standards for public participation and notice requirements allowing for greater public participation in teleconference meetings.” To accomplish this objective, AB 2449 adds a slew of requirements related to access to the meeting, notice, agendas and cause for remote participation to the existing Brown Act requirements. Distinct from AB 361, boards do not have to make any findings, including the findings required every 30 days by AB 361, related to a state of emergency to use this option. Among the new requirements are the following:
  • At least a quorum of members must participate in person from a single location within the territory and that location must be open to the public.
  • Members of the public must be able to remotely hear, visually observe and address the board through either a two-way audiovisual platform or a two-way telephonic service and live webcasting.
  • The meeting notice must include the in-person location and describe the means available for the public to access the meeting and engage in the comment process.
  • The agenda must describe the public’s ability to attend the meeting and to address the board through an internet-based option, a call-in option and an in-person option.
  • Board members may participate remotely but only pursuant to the requirements and limitations described below:
  • For “just cause,” which is defined as 1) a child care or caregiving need of a child parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or domestic partner, or 2) a contagious illness, or 3) a need related to a physical or mental disability, or 4) to travel for the board or another public agency.
  • – To participate remotely by “just cause,” the member must notify the board of the need to meet remotely and provide a general description of the reason. This notice can be given as late as the start of the meeting.
  • – Importantly, remote appearances for “just cause” can only occur twice a year per board member.
  • For an “emergency circumstance,” which is defined as a physical or family medical emergency that prevents the member from attending in person.
  • – The member must request to participate remotely and provide a general description that is 20 words or less of the circumstances requiring remote participation. The description does not need to include any personal medical information. This request process must be used for each instance of remote participation.
  • – The board must approve any request and can take action to do so even if it is not included on the posted agenda.
  • Remote appearances are limited to three consecutive months or 20 percent of regular meetings in a calendar year or more than two meetings if the board meets less than 10 times per year.
  • Members participating remotely must disclose whether any individuals 18 years or older are in the remote location. If there is such an individual, the relationship with that individual must also be disclosed.
  • The remote appearance must be by audio and visual technology.
  • The board must have and implement a procedure for receiving and resolving requests for reasonable accommodations and when notice of the meeting or the agenda is posted, the procedure for resolving reasonable accommodation requests must be included.
Timeline for each option
The traditional teleconferencing option is currently in the Brown Act and has no expiration date. AB 361 expires either on Jan. 1, 2024, or upon the cessation of the current State of Emergency by the Governor, who has announced it will end on Feb. 28, 2023. AB 2449, which goes in effect on Jan. 1, 2023, expires three years later on Jan. 1, 2026.