What is the "California Public Records Act?"

The California Public Records Act (CPRA) is California state law that gives the public the right to inspect and copy most records retained by governmental agencies in the course of business.  In enacting the CPRA, the legislature declared "that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person" in the state.  The purpose of the CPRA is to safeguard the accountability of government to the public.  The CPRA regulates the public's access to the records, and contains limited statutory circumstances when records need not be disclosed.  The CPRA is modeled on the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which is often relied on to construe the CPRA.


What is a public record?

A public record is 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 characteristic.  "Writing" means any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing, any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.


Who can make a Public Records Act Request?

Any member of the public can make a Public Records Act request.   A "member of the public" includes any person except a "member, agent, officer, or employee of a federal, state, or local agency acting within the scope of his or her membership, agency, office, or employment.


Do I have to specify my reason for making a Public Records Act request?

No. The CPRA specifically provides every person a right to inspect or receive copies of any public record, subject to specified exceptions.


Does a request for records have to be in writing?

No.  A request need not be in writing, and may be made verbally. Whenever a request is for voluminous or sensitive records, the City may request that it be submitted in writing to protect the requester and to assist the City in making a determination regarding disclosure. However, the City cannot mandate that all requests be in writing. PRA verbal requests can be made through the City Clerks office: 510-981-6900


When are records to be made available for inspection?

Public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the City.  Any reasonably segregable portion of a record will be made available for inspection after deletion of the portions that are exempted by law.


Can the time period to respond be extended?

Yes, for unusual circumstances. The time to respond with a determination of whether the request seeks copies of disclosable documents may be extended by no more than 14 days.  When the City makes the determination that the request seeks disclosable public records, the City will state the estimated date and time when the records will be made available.


What constitutes "unusual circumstances" for extending the time to respond?

"Unusual circumstances" include the need to search, collect records from other field facilities, review a voluminous amount of records, consult with another agency, compile data, or establish a program to extract data.


What if I have a PRA that spans multiple departments?

If your Public Records request requires documents from more than one departments, please list department in body for your PRA. Submit multi-department PRA requests to City Attorney, who will assign the request to all applicable departments.


I don't know what department to submit my PRA to?

Submit general requests to City Clerk, they will review the request and submit to the correct City Department.