BOS Press Release Listing Banner

VII. Procedure and Voting

Rule 22. Order and Decorum

The Chair shall preserve order and decorum and shall decide all questions of order and procedure subject to an appeal to the Board. The nature of any appeal shall be briefly stated and the Chair shall have the right to state the reason for his or her decision.

A Board member wishing to speak shall refrain until he or she has been recognized by the Chair. While a member is speaking, member shall be respectful and shall not engage in or entertain private discussions.

Consistent with the purpose of the Rules, members are encouraged to use a formal style, including appropriate titles, in addressing the public, staff and each other. All members shall refrain from the use of profanity, emotional outbursts, personal attacks or any speech or conduct which tends to bring the organization into disrepute.

Rule 23. Commitment to Civility

To assure civility in its public meetings, staff and the public are also encouraged to engage in respectful dialog that supports freedom of speech and values diversity of opinion. To achieve compliance with these Rules, Members, staff, and the public are encouraged to:

  • Create an atmosphere of respect and civility where elected officials, County staff, and the public are free to express their ideas;
  • Establish and maintain a cordial and respectful atmosphere during discussions;
  • Foster meaningful dialogue free of personal attacks;
  • Listen with an open mind to all information, including dissenting points of view, regarding issues presented to the Board;
  • Recognize it is sometimes difficult to speak at Board meetings, and out of respect for each person's feelings, allow them to have their say without comment, including booing, whistling or clapping;
  • Adhere to speaking time limit.

Rule 24. Use of Electronic devices and documents

The use of electronic documents, via iPads or other electronic means, is encouraged as a means of reducing the production and distribution of paper documents, and thereby decreasing costs.

Any member of the public may view the same electronic documents on line, or may view the documents in paper form in the Clerk of the Board's Office.

The Board shall refrain from emailing, texting, using social media, or otherwise engaging in electronic communications in the Board Chambers on matters that are listed on the Board agenda.

Rule 25. Motions – General

Any motion for action shall require a second before being acknowledged by the Chair. The Clerk shall enter into the minutes the motion and the names of the moving and seconding members. After a motion is stated by the Chair, it shall be open for debate but may be withdrawn by the maker at any time before a decision is made or an amendment adopted. A motion may be amended with the consent of the moving and seconding members at any time before a decision is made or an amendment adopted unless another motion is pending. The Clerk shall enter into the minutes the vote of each member on each motion.

Rule 26. Voting

It shall take at least three affirmative votes of the Board to pass any motion (Govt. Code §25005), except where supermajority four-fifths (4/5) votes or unanimous votes are required by law. Appendix B contains a list of common items that require a four-fifths (4/5) vote. Appendix B may be up-dated without amending these Rules. An abstention shall count as neither an "aye" nor a "no" vote.

A supervisor who is absent from all or a part of: (1) a public hearing, (2) an item that requires findings, or (3) an item that is quasi-judicial in nature, may subsequently vote on the matter if the supervisor has reviewed all evidence received during his/her absence, listened to the Clerk's recording or read a true and complete transcript of the proceedings, and so states on the record.

Rule 27. Roll Call Votes

The roll need not be called in voting upon a motion except where specifically required by law or requested by a Board member or the Chair. Each roll call vote shall be made in an order determined by the Clerk or directed by the Chair but generally shall first include: the maker of the motion; the member who seconded the motion; the balance of the members present, with the Chair called last, unless the Chair made, or seconded, the motion.

Rule 28. Conflicts of Interest

Any member with a disqualifying conflict of interest must, in compliance with the Political Reform Act:

a) Publically state the nature of the conflict in sufficient detail to be understood by the public;

b) Recuse himself/herself from discussing and voting on item; and

c) Leave the room until after the discussion, vote, and other disposition of the matter is concluded, unless the matter has been placed on the Consent Calendar.

The member may be allowed to address the Board as a member of the public. Disclosure of a conflict shall be noted in the official Board minutes. The member must also comply with all other applicable conflicts of interest laws.

Members may not have a financial interest in a contract approved or considered by the Board. In these cases disclosure and recusal does not remove the conflict and such a contract is considered void (Government Code §1090). The member is encouraged to discuss possible conflicts with County Counsel prior to the meeting.

Rule 29. Motion to Rescind

A motion to rescind any action or motion shall require four-fifths (4/5) vote unless notice has been given at the previous meeting, either verbally or in writing. If notice has been given, the motion requires only a majority vote of all the members of the Board. A motion to rescind is not in order if action has been taken which cannot be changed.

Rule 30. Motion to Reconsider

Any Board member who votes in the majority on a question, as well as any Board member who was absent, is eligible to make a motion to reconsider. A motion to reconsider shall be in order during the meeting at which the action to be reconsidered took place provided members of the public in attendance during the original action are still present in the Board chamber. In all other cases, motions for reconsideration must be placed on a future agenda for action.

A motion to reconsider shall require a majority vote. A motion to reconsider, if lost, shall not be renewed nor shall any subject be reconsidered a second time within twelve (12) months except by a four-fifths (4/5) vote of the Board. A motion to reconsider is not in order if action has been taken which cannot be changed.

Rule 31. Substitute Motion

A substitute motion is an amendment where an entire resolution or section, or one or more paragraphs is struck out and another is inserted in its place. The motion to substitute, if adopted by majority vote, does away entirely with the original motion. The vote shall then be taken on the motion that was substituted. A substitute motion is appropriate if amendments become involved or a paragraph requires considerable changes. A substitute motion may not be made when an amendment is pending.

Rule 32. Ordinances

Ordinances (other than zoning ordinances) are introduced at one meeting (first reading), then generally placed on the agenda for adoption at a subsequent meeting.

  • The first reading will become the primary meeting at which: (1) the title of the ordinance will be read; (2) the Board will typically consider a motion to waive the reading of the text of the ordinance and to introduce the ordinance by title only; (3) members of the public shall have an opportunity to address the ordinance; (4) the ordinance shall be introduced by a motion and majority vote of the Board.
  • At the second reading: (1) the ordinance may be placed on the Consent Calendar for adoption; (2) if pulled from the Consent Calendar for separate action, the title of the ordinance may be read; (3) a motion to adopt the ordinance may be made; (4) a majority vote by roll call will adopt the ordinance.
  • Pursuant to Government Code §25123, ordinances shall generally become effective 30 days from the date of final passage.

Zoning ordinances are publicly noticed and may be adopted by majority roll call at one hearing. Other ordinance hearing procedures may be used as required by law.

Rule 33. Planning Matters – Request for Continuance

Any Board member may, at his or her sole discretion, continue a planning matter within his/her District from one agenda to another regular meeting of the Board.

Rule 34. Planning Matters – Original Jurisdiction

Any member may request the Board to exercise original jurisdiction over a use permit or other planning application, as authorized under the County Code, except in cases where state law requires a recommendation of the Planning Commission prior to action by the Board on the matter. A request to exercise original jurisdiction shall be filed in writing with the Clerk, or made orally at a Board meeting, prior to any decision by a lower level decision maker approving or denying the subject application. A request to exercise original jurisdiction need not state the reasons for the request but shall be brought as a noticed agenda item to the full Board for majority approval.

Contact Information

County of Sonoma
Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
575 Administration Drive
Room 100 A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.464626, -122.725441