What Constitutes a Local Agency
Q: Are records from Hollywood Park OR Santa Anita Racetrack (aka Magna Entertainment Corp. and Los Angeles Turf Club) subject to public access? If so, how do I access them? They are under the jurisdictions of the California Horse Racing Board. Therefore, I believe the Brown Act may apply…?
A: Your first step is to determine if you have a right of access to the information you are seeking under general the California Public Records Act (“PRA”). The Brown Act, which you referenced in your inquiry, is California’s open meetings law, whereas the PRA is the open records law, and governs access to the public records. The PRA only applies to records in the possession of a state or local agency, as those terms are defined by the PRA. Accordingly, you would need to determine whether the agencies you are requesting from are state or local agencies for purposes of the PRA.
The term “local agency” is defined at Government Code section 6252. A local agency is “a county; city, whether general law or chartered; city and county; school district; municipal corporation; district; political subdivision; or any board, commission or agency thereof…” Cal Govt Code Section 6252(a). “‘State agency’ means every state office, officer, department, division, bureau, board, and commission or other state body or agency…” Cal Govt Code Section 6252(f). The term “local agency” also includes any entities that qualify as “legislative bodies” under subdivisions (c) and (d) of section 54952 of the Government Code.
Those sections define a “legislative body” as follows:
(c) (1) A board, commission, committee, or other multimember body that governs a private corporation, limited liability company, or other entity that either:
(A) Is created by the elected legislative body in order to exercise authority that may lawfully be delegated by the elected governing body to a private corporation, limited liability company, or other entity.
(B) Receives funds from a local agency and the membership of whose governing body includes a member of the legislative body of the local agency appointed to that governing body as a full voting member by the legislative body of the local agency.
(2) Notwithstanding subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1), no board, commission, committee, or other multimember body that governs a private corporation, limited liability company, or other entity that receives funds from a local agency and, as of February 9, 1996, has a member of the legislative body of the local agency as a full voting member of the governing body of that private corporation, limited liability company, or other entity shall be relieved from the public meeting requirements of this chapter by virtue of a change in status of the full voting member to a nonvoting member.
If the entities you mention are state or local agency for the purposes of the PRA, the law provides that records created, owned or maintained by that entity are public records that may be examined or copied upon request, unless one of the Act’s many exemptions to disclosure apply.
The exemptions can be found at Govt Code Section 6254 in the PRA. The full text of the PRA can be found here.
I would suggest that you send the entity a written request for records reflecting the information you seek. A sample Public Records Act request can be found on CFAC’s web site at the following link: http://www.cfac.org/templates/cpraletter.html.
The PRA requires agencies to provide you with the documents requested, or notify you that your request has been denied, within 10 days of a request. Gov’t Code § 6253. If you make your request in writing and the request is denied, the agency is obligated to notify you of the denial in writing and specify the exemptions in the PRA or other state or federal law on which is relying to withhold the records you seek. Gov’t Code § 6255.