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The law defines "public record" broadly to include "any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used or retained by any state or local agency, regardless of the physical form and characteristics." California Government Code Section 6252(g). A document does not have to be in written form to be a public record. A public record may consist of any medium that contains information.
Every record made or received by the City is presumed to be a public record unless it is subject to an exemption. Exempt records are those that federal, state, or local law prohibits the City from disclosing or permits the City to decline to disclose. The custodian of records must either give you a copy of the requested record or provide you with a written justification of why the record is not public.
No. You may make an oral or written request. However, it is recommended that you put your request in writing so there is a clear record of your request. A written request that is clear and concise also helps to respond to your request in an efficient manner.
There is no specific form that must be used to request records, nor is there any language you must use in your request. However, you must provide a reasonable description of the desired records. To expedite the processing of your request, you should be as specific as possible.
Generally, the City must respond to a request to inspect or copy records within ten days. In "unusual circumstances," the City may extend its time to respond by an additional fourteen calendar days. The City will inform you in writing within the initial ten-day period if an extension is necessary to respond to your request.
"Unusual circumstances" permitting the extension are limited to the need to:
The department may charge you for the direct cost of duplication of copies of records. The department may charge you a higher fee if it prepares and posts an itemized cost analysis establishing that the per-page direct cost exceeds ten cents per page. Where you request a copy of a record in other than a paper format, the department may charge you for the cost of the medium on which the information is duplicated (e.g. a computer disc). In addition, a department may charge you for the postage of sending you the records.
No. You do not have to give the City a reason for reviewing the record. City employees, however, may ask questions relating to your request if it helps them respond to the request or direct you to another department that may have the records you seek.
Please contact the City official who denied your request to discuss the matter. If you still feel that the record you have requested is a public record and the City official disagrees, you may sue in court to enforce your right to inspect or receive copies of any public record pursuant to the Public Records Act. California Government Code Sections 6258 and 6259. If you prevail, you may be entitled to recover costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Alternatively, if the court finds the case to be frivolous, you may be liable to the City to recover its costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.