San Francisco’s Historic Sunshine Ordinance

Originally published in the League of Women Voters newsletter

by Allyson Washburn

This is the first of a series of articles about the Sunshine Ordinance and the work of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, the commission established to, among other duties, develop and update procedures to implement the Ordinance.

Section 67.1.(f) The people of San Francisco enact these amendments to assure that the people of the City remain in control of the government they have created.

San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 67—the Sunshine Ordinance—is San Francisco’s open government law, enacted in 1993 by the Board of Supervisors and signed by former Mayor Frank Jordan. San Francisco voters amended and approved the current version of the Ordinance in November 1999 as Proposition G. The ordinance is based on the California Public Records Act and the state open meetings law, which is known as the Ralph M. Brown Act. It draws additional authority from Article I, Section 3 of the California Constitution and is intended to ensure and broaden the public’s access to local government guaranteed by state law.

For a copy of the Sunshine Ordinance, which identifies sections added in 1999 with the passage of Proposition G, go to:

To my knowledge, San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance is the nation’s oldest municipal law on government transparency. At least eight other local governments in California have enacted ordinances that, like ours, provide greater right of public access than state law. With the exception of Riverside, all of these county or municipal governments are in the nine-county Bay Area. For more information:

The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (Meets at 4 pm the first Wednesday of the month in Room 408, City Hall)

The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF) was established pursuant to Sunshine Ordinance Section 67.30 to promote transparency and accountability in City government.
The 11 members of the SOTF are appointed by the Board of Supervisors (BOS) following requirements outlined in the Sunshine Ordinance. Members serve for two-year terms without pay or expense reimbursement; there is no term limit. The following organizations submit nominees for several of the seats on the Task Force: The Society of Professional Journalism (Seats 1 and 2), New America Media (Seat 4), and the League of Women Voters (Seat 5). I have served on the Task Force since 2008 and am the current Chair. My LWVSF predecessors were Kristin Chiu and Heather Sterner.

In the next article in this series, I will outline some of the major provisions of the Sunshine Ordinance and begin to address ways in which it might be strengthened through amendments.

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