Public Records Act Guidelines: Helping the Public Access Public Information 

Arrow Graphic Right to Access: Legal Authority

The California Public Records Act (PRA) provides for access to public records and other information. The PRA makes all non-exempt CSD records – including the remainder of records after exempt portions are redacted – in any form or medium subject to public inspection during CSD’s normal office hours or other reasonable timeframe. Hard copies of those records are available after payment of duplication costs. (Government Code section 6253.)

The PRA does not provide for creation/preparation of a record or document that does not exist at the time of the request. Additionally, certain categories of personal information and records are exempt from disclosure under the PRA. Other state laws also protect individual privacy interests and other propriety information from disclosure, including but not limited to the Information Practices (Civil Code section 1798), the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (Public Law 104-191 as amended), and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (Civil Code section 3426).

Arrow Graphic How to Make a Public Records Act Request at CSD

Public Records Act requests can be verbal or in writing.

a. Verbal Requests

Individuals may make verbal requests by telephone between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays:

Department of Community Services and Development
2389 Gateway Oaks, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 576-7109

b. Written Requests

Written requests may be delivered personally, via email at webinfo@csd.ca.gov, or via U.S mail or other courier, to the following mailing address:

Department of Community Services and Development
2389 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA  95833

c. Requests must be reasonable

Requests need to describe existing, reasonably identifiable records that are relevant to the business of CSD.

d. Requests do not need to be formal or technically accurate

Requests need not cite the PRA statute or other legal provisions. Requests for documents will not be rejected due to technicalities.

e. Requestor’s privacy rights

State law permits the requestor to keep his or her identification, contact information and any organizational affiliation private. CSD will ask the requestor to provide this information as a courtesy, however, to facilitate communication with the requestor in response to the request.

f. The PRA Officer will assist the requestor to make a focused and effective request

Example: The requestor states, “I’d like information about the amount of money CSD is giving out in grants this year.” The PRA Officer would then work with the requestor to clarify which type of grants, and whether the requestor seeks a grand total or by grantee. The goal is to provide the requestor with information that is as relevant to his or her specific needs as possible.

Arrow Graphic How CSD Will Complete Requests for Public Records

a. Determination of duplication costs

Records that can reasonably be provided in electronic format are provided to the requestor free of charge. Alternatively, a requestor may either view the relevant documents in CSD’s office, or may request hard copies after payment of duplication costs. If the requestor has asked for copies, the PRA Officer will calculate such costs within the limits of the PRA, and notify the requestor of the amount. For standard-sized documents, CSD will charge ten (10) cents per black-and-white page. CSD will provide a quote for color and oversized documents. CSD will begin preparing the materials upon receipt of payment.

b. All requests will be handled in a timely manner

The PRA requires public agencies to initially respond to a request for records within ten calendar days. CSD will endeavor to complete the request within this time. However, if the records are numerous or other factors make reviewing and collating the relevant documents difficult, CSD may inform the requestor of the status of the request within ten days, and further inform the requestor of an estimated timeframe for completion.