How to Request Public Records

To gather information on government activities, it can be helpful to make an official request for information using the California Public Records Act.

Below is a standard letter that can be adapted for your specific needs.


PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST FORM


CERTIFIED MAIL[1]                                          [DATE]

Public Records Officer [2]
City, County or Special District of Anytown
10 Hightax Street
Anytown, CA 9xxxx

Re: Public Records Act Request

Dear Public Records Officer:

This is a request pursuant to the California Public Records Act, Government Code Section 6250, et seq. Copies of the following documents are requested:

[List with as much specificity as possible the documents needed. They must be documents that already exist. You cannot ask the government to create documents that do not already exist, or to answer questions or perform calculations.]

Please let me know in advance if there is a charge for copying these documents. Pursuant to Govt. Code ยง 6256, your written response within ten days will be appreciated.[3]

Sincerely,


I.M. Curious
13 Jarvis Drive
Anytown, CA 9xxxx

[1] Although not required, submitting the request via certified mail is recommended. First, it is bound to receive more immediate attention. Second, if a dispute arises as to whether or when the request was received, the return receipt provides the necessary proof.

[2] Most jurisdictions do not have a "public records officer" per se. It is a good idea to call the government entity first to determine to which individual the request should be submitted. Many times, it will simply be the city or county clerk.

[3] The government is not required to deliver copies of the documents to you within ten days; it is only required to let you know within ten days whether it has the requested documents and whether they may be exempt from disclosure.