» Opinions & Reports

Legal Opinions

The below legal opinions are provided to the City Council and the Mayor to clarify policy and legal questions.


September 26, 2018 Penalties and Remedies for Violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act Closed Session Confidentiality

June 14, 2018 Public Legal Opinion on Authority of the Police Commission Under the City Charter with Regard to the Proposed Civilian Inspector General and the Police Chief

June 14, 2018 Public Legal Opinion on City Attorney’s Authority to Appoint Counsel to CPRA and Police Commission

June 5, 2018 Legal Role of Oakland Workforce Development Board Under Proposed Ordinance Allocating Funding to Local Job Training Programs

May 10, 2018 Legality of Ordinance on 5/15/18 Council Agenda (Item 11) that would Allocate 5% of Capital Improvement Project Costs to Fund Job Training Programs

March 19, 2018 Appointing authority over staff to the Oakland Police Commission

March 7, 2018 City Attorney's Authority to Bring Public Nuisance Suits under State Law

January 11, 2018 Ethics Complaints against the Public Ethics Commission


November 9, 2017 Scope of Special Council Meetings Called Pursuant to City Charter Section 208

October 12, 2017 City Council/Council Committees Not Required to Allow Public to Speak on Unscheduled Motions to Place an Item or Items on a Future Meeting Agenda or Defer an Agenda Item

May 3, 2017 City Council Holds the Attorney-Client Privilege Regarding Confidential Advice the City Attorney Provides to Individual Councilmembers


July 14, 2016 City Clerk’s Attendance at Closed Session to Record Actions


October 20, 2015 Does the Mayor have the authority to issue executive orders?

June 22, 2015 When is the Mayor Absent under City Charter Section 306?

August 21, 2015 PEC Case 14-11 Opinion re: commisioners amendments on the floor and Brown Act & Sunshine Ordinance

June 17, 2015 Recusal Requirements on Matters Involving Contractors Who Make Campaign Contributions to Elected Officials During Contract Negotiation


December 27, 2013 What is the procedure for the City Council's Coliseum JPA Board Representatives to cast votes on behalf of the City?

October 25, 2013 Whether the Council has the power to direct staff under the City Administrator's jurisdiction to address agenda items and answer questions at City Council and Committee meetings

July 11, 2013 City Council censure laws and procedures

April 26, 2013 Legal Requirements and Legal Status Report Regarding the City of Oakland's 2013 Redistricting Effort

April 22, 2013 Update on opinion advising that email and text messages on private devices regarding City business are disclosable public records

April 9, 2013 Informational Report and Legal Opinion regarding the City Attorney's Powers, including Powers, Procedures and Protocols to Retain Outside Counsel


July 17, 2012 City's authority to exclude Goldman Sachs from future contracts with the City

April 30, 2012 Applicability of Ranked Choice Voting to Tabulation of Votes to Replace a Recalled Municipal Official

April 16, 2012 Does the Public Records Act Allow the City to Require that Public Records Requestors Fill Out a Form or Submit Requests in Writing?

March 22, 2012 Memo to All Staff: City Council Non-Interference in Administrative Affairs


December 19, 2011 Legal implications of two recall petitions

November 22 Disclosure of text and email messages under California Public Records Act

October 26 Applicability of Brown Act/Sunshine Ordinance to Budget Committee of the Oakland Workforce Investment Board

June 2 SF City Attorney's Office Opinion: Timing of a Possible Special Election for the Oakland City Attorney

May 4 Succession of the City Attorney


September 28, 2010 Independent expenditure committees and the expenditure ceiling for candidates - determining if the trigger amounts have been met

September 2, 2010 Independent expenditure committees and the expenditure ceiling for candidates

May 27, 2010 Minimum Budget Requirements for City Auditor's Office Under the Oakland City Charter
Report from MGT of America, Inc.
Request for legal opinion

May 20, 2010 Adoption of City of Oakland Fiscal 2010-11 Budget Based on Passage of a Future Tax Increase

April 20, 2010 Analysis of Change to Contribution Limit for Candidates Who Agree to Voluntary Expenditure Limit

January 13, 2010 Advisory on Case on Ballot Measure Campaigning


December 16, 2009 City's Legal Obligation to Implement Ranked Choice Voting

October 15, 2009 Legal Questions Related to Annual Report on Travel

August 25, 2009 Who Has the Power to Make or Confirm Appointments to City Boards and Commissions?

March 31, 2009 Budgeting Measure Y Funds to Pay Police Officers Assigned to Neighborhood Beat Positions that the City Filled Before the Voters Approved Measure Y

February 17, 2009 Calculation of Seniority for Councilmembers

February 5, 2009 Applicability of Anti-Nepotism Ordinance No. 12908's Cronyism Provision to Mayoral Appointment of City Administrator - read the complaint that prompted the opinion

January 27, 2009 City Administrator's Emergency Contracting Authority

January 9, 2009 City authority to regulate filming activities for HBO production on prostitution


July 2, 2008 Interpretation of the City Charter provision on nepotism

June 16, 2008 Impact of proposed 12-day city closure on Measure Q requirements

May 2, 2008 Who has the power to make appointments to the Community Policing Advisory Board?

February 7, 2008 Use of Measure Y funds to recruit Measure Y officers

January 24, 2008 Powers of the Measure Y oversight committee

January 3, 2008 Allocation of Measure Y money between violence prevention and public services


June 25, 2007 City Council's authority under city charter to authorize City Auditor to execute professional services contracts needed to perform charter duties and exercise charter powers

June 22, 2007 City Auditor's right to examine city records

June 13, 2007 Oakland's Equal Access Ordinance

March 19, 2007 Brown Act - Court Okays Staff Communications with/Briefings of a Quorum of the Council So Long as the Staff Do NOT Advise Councilmembers of Other Councilmembers' Views

March 1, 2007 City Auditor's duty to perform audits that were due before term commenced


September 6, 2006 Opinion on challenge to referendum petition on the Oak to Ninth project - Ordinance No. 12760 with attachments

June 29, 2006 Opinion on city charter requirement that City Attorney approve pay-go and all other agreements as to form and legality before they are executed

June 22, 2006 Opinion on requirements for grants, including pay-go grants

June 16, 2006 Opinion on Alameda County Counsel opinion to Registrar of Voters regarding definition of 'votes cast'

June 14, 2006 Opinion on pay-go requirements for construction and renovations of city property

May 24, 2006 City Attorney Opinion on responsibilities & procedures of Council in response to alleged inappropriate or unbudgeted use of public funds by council member

May 22, 2006 City Attorney Opinion on the use of funds appropriated for Council personnel expenses for non-personnel purposes

May 18, 2006 City Attorney Opinion on sponsor identification in candidate qualification statements

April 27, 2006 City Attorney Opinion on the set-aside 2.5 percent for Kids First! Oakland Children's Fund with Finance Agency staff report and Opinion on franchise fees for set-aside

April 24, 2006 City Attorney Opinion on City Auditor budget cuts


August 12, 2005 City Attorney Opinion on adoption of budget and contracts for workforce investment

May 3, 2005 City Attorney Opinion on Central Station Wood Street development project

February 3, 2005 City of Oakland comments in response to notice of intent to prepare an EIS for the Lower Lake Rancheria Koi Nation casino-hotel project


January 27, 2004 Proposed amendments to Oakland Municipal Code Chapter 2.04 to authorize City Council committee approval of contracts


June 13, 2003 Addendum clarifying February 6 opinion regarding City Manager's powers

April 2, 2003 Opinion regarding amendment to City Council's Rules of Procedure on process for Mayor to exercise tie-breaking vote granted in city charter

February 4, 2003 Community funding organizations' role in public works of improvement

February 6, 2003 City Attorney Opinion regarding City Manager's powers with Clarifying addendum

Prior to 2003

April 25, 2002 What constitutes a drug-free zone?

February 26, 2002 'No parking' restrictions along Grizzly Peak

December 5, 2000 Legal basis for recovery of payments made to Sanjiv Handa (doing business as 'Information Center')

October 10, 2000 Opinion regarding the legality of proposed anti-predatory lending policy

February 7, 2000 Permissibility of Accepting Contributions from Partners of Firms Doing Business with the City of Oakland