Public records requests frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
  4. Trade secrets as defined in Government Code section 6254.2 (f) except as required by law.
  5. Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examination;
  6. 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.

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.

Close window