The state Fair Political Practices Commission has advised Simi Valley that about 100 appointees to city advisory committees must begin complying with state laws that require financial disclosure.
In a written opinion to City Atty. John Torrance, the FPPC concluded that 13 of 15 Simi Valley boards reviewed by the state agency fall under conflict-of-interest laws, even though they are not decision-making bodies.
Although the state could impose penalties of as much as $2,000 per violation for past failures to file statements, an FPPC official said it is unlikely that any action will be taken against the city.
"I imagine, technically, there could be penalties," Lynn Montgomery, FPPC media director, said, "but, in a situation such as this, I would not foresee any further action."
The city requested the state agency's opinion in July, after some residents inquired whether the advisory committees were required to follow conflict-of-interest disclosure laws.
Presumed to Be Exempt
Before that, Simi Valley officials presumed that members of the advisory committees were exempt from disclosing financial data because--unlike the City Council, planning commission and rent mediation board--their activities were "solely advisory," Torrance said.
But the FPPC concluded that, over the years, the groups' recommendations were usually implemented, and therefore they are involved in making decisions.
"They are saying that there is a fine line on who is advisory and who isn't," Torrance said of the FPPC opinion.
Until the issue was resolved, the city canceled the committees' meetings as a precaution, said Mike Sedell, a deputy city manager. "If they were required to file and they continued to take action, those actions would be subject to legal challenge," he said.
Affected Agencies Listed
The affected bodies are: the five Neighborhood Council executive boards, Citizens Election Advisory Commission, Water Resources Advisory Board, Cable Communications Franchise Advisory Committee, Council on Aging, Transit System's Productivity Improvement Committee, Home Rehabilitation Administrative Review Committee, Countywide Planning Program Advisory Committee and the Youth Employment Service Advisory Board.
Members of two other boards, the General Plan Advisory Committee and the Youth Council, are not required to file the statements, the FPPC said.
Sedell said it was too early to determine how many members, if any, will resign rather than make public their financial histories.