A&A: Who can request documents under the CPRA?

Q: Does the California Public Records Act require residency in California to access documents or are they available to visitors from out of state?  Does the CPRA provide a request process?  If so, is it mandatory?

A: Your first question asks whether governmental agencies in California need comply with the Public Records act when the request comes form a non-citizen of the state. The answer is “yes.” An agency’s obligation to follow the law does not depend on the residency of the requester. Indeed, with certain very limited exceptions, the identity of the requester is irrelevant.

Your second question asks whether there is any formal request process. The answer is “no.” The Act itself does not require that request be in any specific form. Indeed, the law simply sets out the government’s duty to provide access to records. A requester need not formally invoke the Public Records act. That being said, many agencies do have forms that they request be used, and many times, it can be more efficient to use those forms, since they are more familiar tot he agency personnel processing the requests.

Bryan Cave LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries. In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.