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Public Records Act Policy


Disclosable public records of the District are open to inspection by any person at all times during normal office hours at the District’s headquarters located at 595 Helman Lane, Cotati, California, in accordance with the procedure below. Copies of disclosable public records may be obtained by any person, as set forth in this policy. Any disclosable portion of a record that can be reasonably separated from any portions of the record that are exempt by law shall be made available for inspection and/or copying after the exempt portions have been deleted.

Procedure to Inspect and/or Make Copies:

  1. Requests Should be Submitted in Writing. The District encourages members of the public to submit all records requests, other than requests for billing and account information, in writing, preferably using the “Public Records Request” form attached as Exhibit “A” to this policy and also published on its web site at Written requests reduce misunderstandings between the requestor and District staff, allowing the District to respond in a timely, more efficient manner. However, the District will not deny a request for records solely because it is not submitted in writing. District staff shall assist the individual in completing the “Public Records Request” form if requested.
  2. Requests Should be Submitted to the District’s Administrative Assistant. Requests for public records, other than billing and account information, should be directed to the District’s Administrative Assistant. If District staff receive verbal or written requests for records, the staff member shall direct the requestor to the District’s Administrative Assistant, who will coordinate with other staff members as needed. Requests for billing and account information should be directed to the Financial Manager.
  3. Requests Should Clearly Identify the Records.The requestor should specify the records to be inspected and/or copied with sufficient detail to enable the District to identify the particular record(s) sought. If the request seems ambiguous or unfocused, District staff will make a reasonable effort to obtain additional clarifying information from the requestor that will help identify the record(s). Pursuant to Government Code Section 6253.1, District staff shall, to the extent reasonable, assist the requestor to identify records and information that are responsive to the request or to the purpose of the request, ifstated; describe the information technology and physical location in which the records exist; and/or provide suggestions for overcoming any practical basis for denying access to the records or information sought.
  4. Making Determinations on Records Requests; Time Extensions. Requests submitted outside of normal business hours will be deemed received on the following business day. When a request seeks records that require research and/or inquiry, the District shall within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the request determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks disclosable public records in the District’s possession. The District’s Administrative Assistant shall notify the requestor of the District’s determination, the reasons for the determination and, if there are disclosable public records, when and where the records will be available for inspection and/or copying. In unusual circumstances, as defined in Government Code Section 6253(c), the time limit for providing the determination on a records request may be extended up to an additional fourteen (14) calendar days by written notice from the District’s Administrative Assistant to the requestor. Such written notice shall explain the reason(s) for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be provided. All determinations from the District shall be in writing and shall be posted prepaid utilizing the USPS or an equivalent service. Any denial of a request for records shall set forth the name and title or position of the District personnel responsible for the denial. Requests for public records may be subject to review by the District’s Legal Counsel prior to responding to the requestor. The response to the requestor may come from Legal Counsel.
  5. Providing Records for Inspection.Upon receipt of a request to inspect or copy records, District staff members shall, whenever possible, make disclosable public records promptly available. To protect records against theft or damage and to promote the orderly functioning of the District, actual production of disclosable documents may be reasonably delayed under the following circumstances:  (a) At the time of the request the records are required by District staff in performing their duties.   (b) Other persons are inspecting or are waiting to inspect the records. (c) The records need to be retrieved from storage. (d) At the time of the request, appropriate District personnel are not available to supervise inspection of the records. (e) A question exists as to the possible exemption of the record from disclosure and the matter must be referred to legal counsel for review.
  6.  Providing Copies of Records.The District shall provide copies of requested disclosable records after payment of fees in accordance with the established fee schedule below. If a large number of copies is requested, District staff may require additional time to prepare the copies. Upon receipt of the appropriate fees, copies of the requested documents will be made available for pick-up. Alternate delivery methods may be utilized at the expense of the requestor (e.g. mailing, FedEx, fax, or e-mail delivery) if reasonably feasible. 
  7. Document Format. The District will make disclosable records available in the same format in which it holds the information. To the extent disclosable public records exist in electronic format, the District shall make such records available to the public in the electronic format, so long as the production in electronic format will not jeopardize or compromise the security or integrity of the original record or of any proprietary software in which it is maintained.

A request for a copy of an identifiable public record, for information produced from such a record, or for a certified copy of such a record, must be accompanied by payment of the appropriate fee as determined by District staff based on cost to the District. A fee of $0.25 per standard page (8.5 x 11) will be charged for copies, and $0.40 per larger size page (8.5 x 14, and 11 x 17). Fees for other types of reproduction (e.g., photographs, video tapes, etc.) will be based on the cost to the District. If the State Legislature has established a statutory fee for any given record, the statutory fee shall be charged.
Duplication costs of electronic records shall be the direct cost of producing the electronic copy. However, requestors may be required to pay additional costs of producing the electronic copy, such as programming and computer services costs, if the records are only produced at regularly scheduled intervals, or production of the record would require data compilation, extraction or programming in accordance with Government Code Section 6253.9.

Records Not Open for Inspection/Copying: Records which are exempt from disclosure by law include but are not limited to the following:

  1.  Preliminary drafts, notes or interagency or intra-agency memoranda that are not retained by the District in the ordinary course of business, if the public interest in withholding those records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure. (Gov. Code § 6254, subd. (a).)
  2.  Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the District is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810) of Title 1 of the Government Code, until the pending litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled. (Gov. Code § 6254, subd. (b).)
  3.  Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. (Gov. Code § 6254, subd. (c).)
  4. The contents of real estate appraisals or engineering or feasibility estimates and evaluations made for or by the District relative to the acquisition of property, or to prospective public supply and construction contracts, until all of the property has been acquired or all of the contract agreement obtained. (Gov. Code § 6254, subd. (h).)
  5. Records, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to provisions of federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege. (Gov. Code § 6254, subd. (k).)
  6. Memoranda, correspondence, and writings submitted to the District or its Board of Directors by District’s legal counsel pursuant to the attorney-client privilege. (Evid. Code § 954; Gov. Code §6254(k).)
  7. “Trade secrets” as defined in Evidence Code Section 1061 only if the interests of justice are thus best served. (Evid. Code § 1060; Gov. Code §6254(k).)
  8. The District Manager, with the advice of Legal Counsel, has determined that the records are exempt from disclosure based upon the finding that the public interest served by not making the record public clearly outweighs the public interest served by the disclosure of the record (Gov. Code § 6255).

This partial list of exemptions is subject to existing state and federal law, and any changes in the laws are automatically incorporated into this policy. An expanded list of exempt documents and documents which are not deemed to be public records is provided in the California Public Records Act.

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