San Diego County Board of Supervisors have adopted conflict of interest codes for the county’s 26 community planning groups and community sponsor groups.
In addition to adopting the codes, the supervisors’ recent 5-0 vote directs county staff to review the ramifications of planning and sponsor group members becoming subject to the Political Reform Act, including fiscal impacts due to additional county staff time, and to return to the board with a report and recommendations on how to proceed.
County staff was also directed to inform community planning group and sponsor group members of a recent Fair Political Practices Commission determination that planning and sponsor group members are public officials subject to the Political Reform Act and to work with the advisory groups to ensure compliance with the regulations.
The state’s Political Reform Act requires that local government entities adopt conflict of interest codes for designated public officials. Board of Supervisors Policy I-1 had already required planning and sponsor group members to follow certain provisions of the Political Reform Act, including filing Fair Political Practices Commission economic disclosure (Form 700) statements.
The supervisors’ action on March 23 does not change the previous requirements but establishes that planning and sponsor group members are required to comply with conflict of interest provisions of state law and are subject to Fair Political Practices Commission fines, civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution for non-compliance.
The ramifications of subjecting planning and sponsor group members to the Political Reform Act include education and training for approximately 300 planning and sponsor group members on specific details of the conflict of interest laws, county Department of Planning and Land Use staff assistance on a case-by-case basis regarding participation in meetings in compliance with conflict of interest laws, county legal advice on questions involving the Political Reform Act, and defense and indemnification of planning or sponsor group members if they are sued for alleged violations of the Political Reform Act.
Ramona Community Planning Group, a 15-member elected panel that advises the county on planning and land use matters, is among the groups affected by the supervisors’ action.