In accordance with the California Public Records Act, Govt. Code § 6250 et. seq., the City of Santa Ana provides access to public records, except those exempt from disclosure by law. Under Govt. Code § 6253 (e), local agencies are under no obligation to create records that do not already exist at the time of the request.
The Clerk of the Council, acting as Official Custodian of Records for the City of Santa Ana, accepts the Public Records Request Form and coordinates with appropriate department(s) to make sure all requests are provided for within the legal time frame. The exception is the Police Department that may accept requests for records exclusive to their department.
The City of Santa Ana’s standard request form is intended to help the requester identify the records needed. Please note requests too general in nature, i.e., all files relating to, etc. may result in a delay pending further identification of the records. Examples of information that may expedite the process include: Name or title of the document, i.e., Resolution Number 2020-100, building permit address, developer name, date of incident, details of incident, etc. The more specific the description of the request, the better able we are to locate the record requested.
City of Santa Ana Policy
It is the City of Santa Ana's policy to provide all members of the public broad and convenient access to its records and to promptly make the fullest possible disclosure of its records. City staff is available to assist persons requesting records to make focused and effective requests that reasonably describe identifiable records. Some records are exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act. Therefore, whether a request to review records is made in person, by mail, or by other means, it may be necessary in some cases for staff to review the requested records to determine whether those exemptions apply before the records can be made available for review or copying. In those cases, that review will be completed as expeditiously as is feasible.
The Public Records Act
The purpose of the California Public Records Act (PRA) is to give private citizens greater access to government information. The law (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.) requires that local government agencies make public records available upon request. The City has established the following guidelines to ensure that members of the public fully understand and are afforded the opportunity to use their right to inspect and obtain copies of public records.
What are Public Records?
"Public records" include any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used or retained by City regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored. Please note that records are not inquiries and the City is under no legal obligation to create a record that does not already exist during the regular course of its business.
'Writing' means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photocopying, transmission by electronic mail or facsimile, photography, and every other means of recording upon any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols or any combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums and other documents.
"Member of the public" means any person except a member, agent, officer, or employee of federal, state, or local agency acting within the scope of his or her membership, agency, office, or employment.
Email and Text Message Retention Policy
Pursuant to Email and Text Message Retention Policy of the City all emails and text messages are retained for two years and deleted on a rolling basis thereafter.
Requests for Copies of Public Records (Copies)
The City will make copies of records for members of the public upon request. The California Public Records Act provides that copies of records will be made promptly available upon payment of fees that cover the direct costs of duplication, which are generally the costs of running a copy machine.
In some cases (especially with voluminous records), the City may send its records to a bonded copy service, rather than copying them in the office. The person requesting the records must pay the copy service’s charges before receiving the copies. Members of the public may also pay bonded copy service companies to come to City Hall to make copies. If you wish to bring your own copier to the City, we would appreciate it if you would call in advance to make arrangements, but advance arrangements are not required.
Requests to View Public Records (File Review)
Files may be reviewed at City of Santa Ana, City Hall during regular office hours, which are Monday through Thursday and every other Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding holidays. Persons interested in reviewing or obtaining copies of public records are encouraged to make an appointment in advance.
Appointments are not mandatory, but they will help staff facilitate the file review request. If you have made a file review appointment, please arrive on time. You will be directed to the file review area of the office, where the requested files will be available for your review. Failure to make an appointment may result in a delay while the records are located and reviewed, if necessary.
Please be aware that it is a misdemeanor to steal, remove, destroy, mutilate, deface, alter, or falsify City records. In some cases, City staff may be assigned to observe the file review in order to protect the integrity of the records. Your assistance in maintaining the integrity of records is appreciated.
How Long Will it Take to Get a Response?
The City will determine whether we can comply with the request and, within 10 calendar days from the date the request is received, we will notify you of our determination.
If the determination will not be made within 10 days due to unusual circumstances as defined in Government Code 6253, we will notify you of the reasons for the delay and the date when the determination is expected to be issued. No such notice shall specify a date that results in an extension of more than 14 days.
The City may request additional information if the records request is not specific enough to permit the identification of the requested records. If the City determines to comply with the request, the records will be made available as promptly as is reasonably practicable.
Is There a Fee Involved?
If the information is in hard copy only and must be photocopied, or if you desire a hard copy printout, the cost is 23 cents per page. If the information you request is available in an electronic format and you desire it in that format, the file(s) can be copied to a DVD/CD at a cost of $6.41.
Actual costs to cover other types of reproduction will be charged. You will be billed in advance for those costs.
What Will the City's Response to a Records Request Include?
In responding to information requests, we will advise the person submitting the request, by telephone or by mail as appropriate, of (1) the location, date, and time at which the requested records may be inspected; (2) if copies of records are requested, the cost of providing such copies; (3) which of the records requested are not subject to disclosure as public records pursuant to applicable provisions of the Public Records Act or Information Practices Act. The City will determine the form in which any requested computer data will be provided.
What Records Are Not Open for Inspection or Will Not Be Disclosed?
In balancing the public's right to access public records with the recognized individual right of privacy and the need for government agencies to be able to competently perform their duties, the Legislature has established certain categories of records as exempt from public disclosure.
A complete list of statutory exemptions is found in the Public Records Act, Government Code Section 6254 et seq. Exemption categories include some of the following:
- Preliminary drafts, notes, or inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda which are not retained by the City in the ordinary course of business, provided that the public interest in withholding such records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure;
- Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the City is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Government Code Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810) until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled;
- Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
- Trade secrets as defined in Government Code section 6254.2 (f) except as required by law.
- Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examination;
- Records of which the disclosure is exempt or prohibited pursuant to provisions of federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.
The City also has the discretion not to disclose records which do not qualify for a specific exemption under the Public Records Act if it determines that the public interest served by not making the record public clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure, pursuant to Government Code Section 6255. City's determination to disclose a particular record, which may otherwise be exempt from disclosure, does not constitute a waiver with respect to any other records. Please note that you will be notified if a determination is made to deny access to records, and why.
Persons with disabilities who require accommodation for obtaining access to City public records should notify us of their accommodation needs in their written request.