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Asked & Answered

A&A is a searchable database of questions posed by users like you about their rights under open government laws and First Amendment safeguards that have been answered by FAC’s attorneys—all First Amendment and government access specialists at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, LLP, an international law firm with offices in San Francisco.

A&A: Does the California Public Records Act Allow Agencies to Extend Deadline for Retrieving Records from 14-Days to Months?

Q: I submitted a public records request about six weeks ago. The state agency responded promptly requesting a lengthy extension. Are they allowed to ask for so much time to gather records? When are they only allowed a 14-day extension and when can they claim they need more time? I did not push when they asked for more time because I was busy with other projects. Now I’m wondering, should I have been more assertive when they asked for a six-week extension? A: The California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) gives public agencies the option of extending the 10-day deadline in

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A&A: Does Brown Act Allow Adding Agenda Items Less Than 72-Hours Before A Meeting?

Q: A California City Council originally released an agenda for its regular meeting without a closed session. Each agenda usually has a closed session heading listed at the end of the meeting — but the council doesn’t meet in closed session; it’s like a placeholder. On its action calendar, the council was scheduled to discuss and appoint a new interim city attorney. Three hours before the 7 p.m. meeting, the city clerk sent out an amended agenda, adding a closed session item at the end of the meeting: “The action item appointing the interim city attorney was then moved to

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A&A: Are Citizen Bond Oversight Committee Applications Public Records?

Q: I submitted a CPRA for completed/submitted applications of Citizen Bond Oversight Committee members, however, the school district denied “the request stating my request for the completed applications are protected from disclosure pursuant to Government Code section 6254(c), disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” I reviewed the government code and think it does not apply to the CBOC members since they are volunteers and not personnel. Would you be able to clarify my assumption? Your assistance would help me bring much-needed transparency in our district. A: As you know, the CPRA contains many exceptions to

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A&A: Are a Water Utility’s Shut-Off Statistics Public Records in California?

Q: Under CPRA, is it possible to request a list of addresses for residences from the city that have had their water shut off in the past 30 days if I ask for them to redact all other information including name and phone number? A: The California Public Records Act (CPRA) requires public agencies to disclose public records unless some exemption applies.  Public records 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.” Gov’t Code § 6252(e).  Unfortunately, there is a specific exemption under the

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A&A: What Is The “Actual Cost” An Agency Can Charge For Fulfilling A Public Records Request?

Q: I was charged $30 to obtain a copy of a traffic collision report for an accident that I was not involved in, but which destroyed my parked car. I looked up the California Vehicle Code that applies to traffic collisions, and it says the police department may not charge anything other than the “actual cost” of producing the record. My understanding of “actual” cost means that they may charge for what it costs to print the copies, not for labor, investigative work, or anything else. But can you point me to a resource that would explain what “actual cost”

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A&A: County Silent In When It Will Fulfill My Request For 911 Calls Received During A Major Wildfire

Q: On May 2 I submitted a request to the County Fire Department (Risk Management Division) for 90 individual 911 calls during a major wildfire. I selected the calls from a 200+ page document that the Risk Management people provided to me, in the format that was requested by them. I have followed up a couple of times and the last I heard on May 10 was “I forwarded your request to the bureau that oversees our dispatch center. It’s an extremely large request so I anticipate it will take several months to compile.” Since it has been more than

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