A&A: PRA request denied for correspondence related to reports

A: Three reports were recently accepted by City staff and posted on the City website. Reports were identified as independent analyses of effects of proposed commercial sports facilities. My request for written correspondence between City staff and companies that prepared reports was denied. Will you be able to advise me as to how to proceed further to access this information? I can provide email advising me of denial of requested info.

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Q: Under the PRA, public records—which 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,” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6252(e)—are presumed to be open to the public and must be disclosed unless a specific provision of the Act or other law exempts them from disclosure.  Although there are several exemptions to the PRA, they must be construed narrowly.

It sounds like you may have already done this, but if not, I suggest you submit a written PRA request to the City.

If the City claims that the documents you are requesting fall under a PRA exemption, it must let you know specifically what exemption it is relying on and how that exemption applies. Gov’t Code § 6253(c).

If the City has already done this, you can write back explaining why you disagree with its decision.  You should also remind the City that it has an obligation to assist you in making a focused request.  See Gov’t Code § 6253.1.

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.