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Bylaws

Bylaws of the Sonoma County Planning Commission and/or the Sonoma County Board of Zoning Adjustments

Amended May 30, 1996
Amended October 29, 1998
Amended January 29, 2004

Article I - Purpose

Section 1.

To provide guidelines and rules of operation for the Planning Commission and/or the Board of Zoning Adjustments which are part of the Sonoma County Planning Agency created by the Sonoma County Code as adopted by the Sonoma County Board of  Supervisors.

Article II - Organization

Section 2.

The Planning Agency of ten Commissioners is grouped into five for Planning Commission and five for Board of Zoning Adjustments, with each Commissioner serving ten months on each body according to a rotation schedule adopted by Board of Supervisors Resolution Number 56821.

Article III - Meetings

Section 3.

Deleted

Section 4.

Regular Meetings - Planning Commission
There shall normally be two regular meetings of the Planning Commission each month, on the first and third Thursday, starting at 1:00 PM, unless workload otherwise dictates.

Section 5.

Regular Meetings - Board of Zoning Adjustments
There shall normally be two regular meetings of the Board of Zoning Adjustments each month, on the second and fourth Thursdays, starting at 1:00 p.m., unless workload otherwise dictates.

Section 6.

Special Meetings
Special meetings shall be held on the call of the Chairman of the Planning Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustments or Planning Agency, or upon the call of a majority of either group, or upon request of the Board of Supervisors.

Section 7.

Notification - Regular Meetings
Each member shall be notified of the time and place of each regular meeting. Said notice shall be given by the Secretary and shall be served in writing, mailed to the last known address of each member and deposited in the post office at least five days prior to the day appointed for the meeting.

Section 8.

Notification - Special Meetings

  1. Each Commissioner shall be notified of the time, place and purpose of each special meeting. Said notice shall be given by the Secretary and shall be served personally or in writing at least twenty-four hours before the time appointed for such meeting.
  2. Notice of same to the newspaper of general circulation, in all instances, and other media which have requested, in writing, such notification at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

Section 9.

Quorum
A majority of the voting members of the Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Adjustments, or Planning Agency shall constitute a quorum.

Section 10.

Adjournment
The Commission may adjourn from time to time, absentees being notified thereof, and in case there shall be no quorum present on the day fixed for a regular, adjourned, or special meeting, the Commissioners present may adjourn from time to time until a quorum is obtained, or may adjourn said meeting sine die.

Section 11.

State Laws
All provisions of the Government Code (including Sections 54950 -54960, Ralph M. Brown Act) shall be followed in the scheduling, notification and conduct of all meetings of the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustments.

Article IV - Officers and Committees

Section 12.

Officers
The officers of the Planning Agency shall be Co-Chairmen of the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustments. The Director of the Permit and Resource Management Department or his/her designee shall be the Secretary of the Planning Agency.

Section 13.

Term of Office
The officers shall hold office for one year from July 1st through the following June 30th and thereafter until their successors take office. Each Chair shall succeed to office in the numerical order of the Supervisorial District from which they serve except where one  successor Commissioner has served less than one year on the Planning Agency. In those cases, the Chair shall succeed to office from the next numbered District where both Commissioners have served at least one year on the Planning Agency. The District skipped because of this provision shall succeed out of numerical order the next following year in which both Commissioners have served at least one year on the Planning Agency. Chairship shall thereafter revert back to the numerical order of succession that would have occurred had there been no return back to a skipped Supervisorial District (i.e. skip 1, go to 2, return to 1, 3, 4,  5).

Section 14.

Duties of Officers
The Chairman of either body shall chair the respective meeting. In the absence of the Chairman of either body, a Commissioner from the next succeeding Supervisorial District will chair the meeting.

The Secretary shall perform the duties required by law, and he/she shall have a true and complete record of the proceedings of the Commission and/or Board of Zoning Adjustments, as prescribed in the procedural rules for conduct of public meetings, and have charge of all books and documents, and papers which property belong to his/her office, as well as signing of official documents.

Section 15.

Deleted

Section 16.

Ad Hoc committees
The Chairman of either the Planning Commission, Planning Agency or the Board of Zoning Adjustments may appoint ad hoc committees and their chairs to report back to either body.

Section 17.

Membership on Committees
All committees shall consist of three members, except as otherwise ordered by the Planning Agency. The Chairman of the Planning Agency may, at any time, change the numbers of its committees in such a way as he or she may deem in the best interest for the Agency. The intent is that no committee shall constitute a quorum of the Planning Agency, Planning Commission or the Board of Zoning Adjustments.

Section 18.

Committee Quorums
A majority of any committee shall constitute a quorum of such committee. If fewer than the full membership of the committee are present at any meeting, the members present may prepare reports and recommendations, and may submit the same to the Commission or Board of Zoning

Adjustments on behalf of such committee, in which case the report shall show the committee members present.

Section 19.

Committee Chairman
The Chairman of a committee shall call the same at such time and place as he/she may deem proper whenever there is any business requiring attention of the committee.

If necessary for the proper consideration of any matter referred to the committee, the committee is authorized to make investigations, send notices and call property holders, and call upon the Planning staff for such surveys, plans, estimates, and recommendations as may be deemed necessary.

Section 20.

Deleted December 29, 1983. Reserved for future use.

Section 21.

Deleted

Section 22.

Deleted

Section 23.

Deleted

Article V - Conduct of Business

Section 24.

Business at Special Meeting
No business shall be transacted at any special meeting other than that named in the call thereof.

Section 25.

Chairman at Meetings
Meetings of either the Planning Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustments shall be called to order by the Chairman. In the absence of the Chairman, the Secretary shall call the meeting to order when members present may elect a Chairman pro tempore in accordance with Section 14.

Section 26.

Meeting Attendance and Records
The Secretary shall keep a record of those Commissioners present and those absent. The minutes of previous meetings shall be submitted for approval and any errors noted and corrections made, after when the regular order of business may be taken up. The reading of the minutes may be dispensed with and the same approved if there are no objections.

Section 27.

Order of Business - Planning Commission
The order of business at regular meetings of the Planning Commission, unless otherwise ordered by the Chair, shall be as follows:

  1. Call to order.
  2. At the first meeting of the month, pledge of  allegiance.
  3. Approval of minutes.
  4. Correspondence.
  5. Secretary’s report on actions of the Board of Supervisors and other announcements.
  6. Public comment on issues not on the agenda.
  7. Hearings or other individual planning matters being  considered.
  8. Adjournment.

With agreement of the Commission, the above order of business may be suspended or varied at any time upon order of the Chair when he/she deems it is in the public interest to do so.

Section 28.

Order of Business - Board of Zoning  Adjustments
The order of business at regular meetings of the Board of Zoning Adjustments, unless otherwise ordered by the Chair, shall be as follows:

  1. Call to order.
  2. At the first meeting of the month, pledge of  allegiance.
  3. Approval of minutes.
  4. Correspondence.
  5. Secretary’s report on actions of the Board of Supervisors and other announcements.
  6. Public comment on issues not on the agenda.
  7. Hearings or other individual planning matters being  considered.
  8. Adjournment.

With agreement of the Board of Zoning Adjustments, the above order of business may be suspended or varied at any time upon order of the Chair when he/she deems it is in the public interest to do so.

Section 29.

Written Reports
All agency reports shall be in writing.

Section 30.

(Designation of) Voting (Order)
The voting order of both the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustments shall be rotated according to the adopted rotation schedule except that the Chairman shall vote last. Roll call vote is required for agendized regular business except for approval of minutes and committee reports.

Section 31.

Motions and Voting
All actions shall consist of a motion and second. An "aye" vote by a majority of the members present shall be necessary to carry a motion. A quorum (3 members) shall be present to effectuate a vote. An abstention shall count as neither an aye or a no vote. An appeal is denied if it fails to receive the affirmative vote of a majority of the members present. An application over which the Commission or Board has original jurisdiction is denied if it fails to receive the affirmative vote of the majority of the members present.

Section 32.

Amending Bylaws
These bylaws may be added to or amended at any regular meeting on motion, duly seconded and carried by majority vote of a quorum of the Planning Agency (6 members).

Sonoma County Planning Agency procedural rules for conduct of public meetings for Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustments

I. PURPOSE

  1. To provide definitive guidelines for the conducting of public hearings in order to insure fair, understandable and effective procedures.
  2. To publish these rules and procedures for public hearings in accordance with Section 65804 of the California Government Code.

II. GENERAL CONDUCT

  1. Rules of Procedure
    The rules of parliamentary procedures as set forth in Robert's Rules of Order shall govern all meetings of the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustments, except as provided otherwise in these rules.
  2. Records of Meetings
    All meetings will be recorded by mechanical means. If a verbatim transcript is desired, the persons requesting the transcript shall employ and pay the fee or fees of a reporter. Staff shall tape a record of the proceedings which are held in the regular meeting room. However, tapes are held only for a period of two years after final action by the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Adjustments, and/or Board of Supervisors. A written summary (minutes) will be made a part of the record and copies of approved minutes shall be made available upon request.
  3. Conduct
    In conducting most public hearings, the Planning Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustments acts in a quasi-judicial capacity. In all cases it is the Commission's and Board of Zoning Adjustments' responsibility to scrupulously guard the right of the public to a fair and impartial public hearing and to maintain the dignity and personal integrity of all who participate. Personal abuse of any meeting participant will not be tolerated by the Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustments.
  4. Procedure
    The Chairman will require that parliamentary procedure be adhered to by all who wish to be heard.

    During the course of the hearing, Commissioners or Board of Zoning Adjustments m embers, staff members, proponents, opponents, and other interested persons will direct all questions through the Chair. Direct questioning of witnesses may be allowed at the discretion of the Chair. The Chair will recognize and accept testimony from all who wish to be heard. However, repetitious and irrelevant testimony will not be accepted, nor will the reading of repetitious letters and petitions be permitted. Those documents may be filed with the Secretary so that the record will show the names of the persons supporting or opposing an application. Speakers may be limited  at time of presentation.

  5. Representation
    The real parties in interest, including the applicant or any party having a substantial interest in the hearing, may be represented by counsel or a spokesperson.
  6. Exhibits
    All exhibits, documents or other physical evidence used by the applicant or other interested parties and determined to be necessary and required will become part of the record and retained by the Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustments; supplementary evidence will be  returned after the decision becomes final.
  7. Sworn Testimony
    Witnesses shall not be required to be sworn, but the Chairman may request that witnesses be sworn in cases where the Commission or Board finds it necessary or appropriate. Each witness will be required to approach the microphone and give his full name and address for the record before testifying.
  8. Cross-Examination
    The Commission and/or Board of Zoning Adjustments shall retain the right to cross-examine the witnesses. If others present wish to ask questions of any witness, such questions should be directed through the Chair. The Chair may use his/her discretion in allowing such questioning.

II Order of Individual Hearings

  1. The Chairman shall open the public hearing.
  2. The staff will make a report covering the facts and background of the application or matter being heard, including reasons or criteria for recommendations.
  3. The Secretary or other staff member will present communications concerning the application.
  4. The applicant or his representative will then be given an opportunity to make a presentation or make comments relative to his application first. Then other members of the public will be given an opportunity to comment.
  5. The applicant, or his representative, may then respond to previous testimony, at the discretion of the Chair.
  6. The public portion of the hearing will then be closed and no further testimony (including testimony from staff) taken except for questions by the Commission of staff and the public, unless a determination is made that the hearing shall be reopened and  continued.
  7. The Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustments shall then proceed with  discussion.
  8. Action Alternatives

    The Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustments may then:

    1. vote upon the matter by either approving or disapproving (granting or denying in the case of a permit), as presented; or
    2. grant a permit or tentative map subject to conditions;  or
    3. defer taking action on the matter and continue for further discussion and appropriate action. (If a continuance is suggested prior to commencement of the public hearing, the Chairman shall determine if those witnesses present prefer to present their testimony during the hearing as called or delay to the date of continuance.)

    Final decision shall include written findings required by statute or ordinance with reasonable factual determination pertinent to the issues involved.

    The Chairman will then call for the next agenda item.

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Santa Rosa, CA 95403
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