Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Sunshine Ordinance

The Ethics Commission adjudicates matters concerning alleged violations of the City’s public records and meeting laws, which are codified in the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance (Admin. Code Chapter 67).

Most Sunshine Ordinance matters are referred to the Commission by the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

The Commission has established two procedures for handling such referrals, which are different from its normal enforcement procedures. These procedures are set forth in Section Ten of the Commission’s Regulations for Investigations and Enforcement Proceedings.

Chapter Two hearings concern alleged violations by City officers and employees other than elected officials or department heads, and non-willful violations by elected officials or department heads. A respondent in a Chapter Two hearing has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he or she did not violate the Sunshine Ordinance. Commission staff does not prepare any analysis in such matters.

Chapter Three hearings concern allegations of willful violations by elected officials or department heads. In a Chapter Three hearing, the complainant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the Respondent violated the Sunshine Ordinance. Unlike in Chapter Two proceedings, Commission staff conducts an independent investigation and makes a recommendation and report regarding resolution. The Ethics Commission is not bound by staff’s recommendation.

Persons may also submit complaints to the Ethics Commission alleging willful violations of the Sunshine Ordinance by an elected official or department head, which are handled pursuant to the procedures in Chapter Three. However, complainants generally must first notify the District Attorney and/or Attorney General of the failure of a City officer or employee to produce a public records pursuant to a Sunshine Task Force order. If the District Attorney and/or Attorney General takes no action, the person who made the public record request may file a complaint directly with the Commission. Contact the Commission staff for more details.

Generally, the Ethics Commission will defer hearing any matter that is currently pending before the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force or any of its committees. (See Admin. Code Section 67.35(d))

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