California Public Records Act Guidelines

California’s Constitution provides that the people of California have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business and that the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny. In enacting the California Public Records Act, the Legislature stated that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state. The fundamental principle of the California Public Records Act is that governmental records shall be disclosed to the public upon request, unless there is a specific reason not to do so.

Generally, all records must be made available to the public promptly upon request. But the Legislature also recognized the need to balance the public’s right to know against competing constitutional rights to privacy and the government’s need to perform its functions in a reasonably efficient manner (e.g., by maintaining the confidentiality of some records relating to pending investigations and litigation). Consequently, the California Public Records Act also contains several exemptions from disclosure and incorporates several other statutes that prohibit state employees from disclosing certain types of public records. The California Public Records Act also establishes reasonable procedures providing for prompt disclosure while allowing government agencies the time to locate records and to determine which records, if any, are exempt from disclosure.

Some CalEPA 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.

It is the CalEPA’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. CalEPA staff is available to assist persons requesting CalEPA records to make focused and effective requests that reasonably describe identifiable records.