A&A: Coastal Permit access under PRA

Q: I am looking to acquire a copy of Coastal Permit (4-90-9 A-1). Please advise.

A: Coastal permits held by a state or local agency would presumptively be subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act, so obtaining a copy of the permit that you seek probably requires making a simple request for it from the agency.  You might first check the agency’s website to see if it has some sort of streamlined procedure for requesting documents such as building permits.  You could always walk into the agency and request the permit in person, which may be a good option given it probably would not take the agency long to track down and make a copy of the permit for you.

If, on the other hand, you are anticipating any resistance to giving you the permit, then you might want to make your request in writing, as this will compel a written response from the agency.  If you make a written request, the agency must determine whether the requested records are disclosable within 10 days of your request, and “promptly notify” you, in writing, if it will make the records available, or specifically state the exemption it is claiming and how it applies to the requested records.  Gov’t Code § 6253(c).  The agency must also state the estimated date and time when disclosable records will be made available. Gov’t Code § 6253(c).

You can find more information about the Public Records Act, including a sample request letter, at the First Amendment Coalition web site: Public Records Act

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.