A&A: My Request for City Contract with Towing Company Was Never Answered

Q: I requested a copy of a contract, between my community and a towing company base in a neighboring city, but never received a response.

A: Under California’s Public Records Act, “‘[p]ublic records’ includes 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 physical form or characteristics,” Gov’t Code section 6252(e) – and must be disclosed upon request unless a specific provision of the Act or other law exempts them from disclosure.

Once an agency receives a request for records, the agency has 10 days to respond to the request, though it may claim an additional 14 days under certain circumstances (but they’ll need to write to you and let you know they’re taking the additional time).  The agency must disclose the records “promptly” after identifying whether it does indeed have records responsive to the request.  Gov’t Code § 6253(c).

If the the city is not meeting these statutory deadlines, you may want to follow up and remind it of its obligations under the Public Records Act to timely respond to PRA requests.  If the agency is claiming that certain records are exempt under the Act, it is required to cite the exemption and explain how its applies to the records.  Gov’t Code § 6253(c).

You can read more about the Public Records Act  here.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner 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.  No attorney-client relationship has been formed by way of this response.