Has The Public Been Locked Out Of Key L.A. City Hall Area? (Updated)

The Los Angeles City Attorney's office is looking into a complaint that L.A.'s top budget officer has installed a lock-and-buzzer system on a room outside his office that was previously open to the public. (Update): City administrative officer Miguel Santana confirms that an intercom system has been installed at the behest of the police department, citing security concerns; there had always been a lock on the door, but now visitors must be buzzed in via the receptionist. He says public access is open and has not changed.

The reception room that leads to city administrative officer Miguel Santana's office is also a gateway to public rooms where, for example, the city's bond oversight committee meetings are held. Public access to such proceedings are apparently protected by the state open-meeting law known as the Brown Act. However it's not yet clear if the act mandates that rooms remain open to the public or whether or not having a receptionist buzz people in, as is the process outside Santana's lair, satisfies the law's requirements.

A City Attorney's spokesman said that it appears a keypad has been installed at the reception room's doors, which would only allow City Hall employees access. However, "there is a receptionist there who can buzz people in," he said.

"The guard downstairs still give us some hassle," one City Council watcher who eventually gained access to the room told the Weekly.

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"We're looking into it" to determine if the Brown Act has been violated, the City Attorney's spokesman said.

Santana returned to work two weeks ago after having been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol following a roast for District Attorney Steve Cooley in late March.


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