City of Lancaster Guidelines for Access to Public Records
“Access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.” (Cal. Govt. Code section 6250) In the exercise of that right, California citizens may request, inspect and copy public records maintained by state and local government agencies.
The City of Lancaster supports the public’s right to access public records created and maintained by the City in the ordinary course of business. It is the City’s goal to provide requested records in a transparent and timely manner, in accordance with the California Public Records Act (Cal. Govt. Code sections 6250 to 6276.48). The City’s guidelines for access to public records are in furtherance of that goal.
“Public Records” includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics. (Cal. Govt. Code section 6252(e))
“Writing” means any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored. (Cal. Govt. Code section 6252(f))
Direct Your Request to the City Clerk’s Office.
To ensure that records requests are properly tracked and timely processed, all requests should be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office. Written requests are encouraged. A Request for Public Records form is available on the City Clerk’s website for your convenience, but you are not required to use the form.
Requests for information and records may be made in the following ways:
1. You may make your request in person during regular office hours (Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding holidays). The City Clerk’s Office is located on the second floor of City Hall, 44933 Fern Avenue, Lancaster, CA 93534.
2. You may mail your written request to the attention of the City Clerk at the address identified above.
3. You may send your written request by fax to (661) 723-5847.
4. You may email your request to KStenback@cityoflancasterca.org Please put “Records Request” in the subject line.
5. You may telephone the City Clerk’s Office at (661) 723-6020. When requests are made orally, staff may confirm the request in writing to ensure they have correctly understood the request.
Please provide specific information about the records you seek. When you are unable to identify a record by name, please provide as much detail as possible in describing the record. If a request is not sufficiently specific, City Clerk’s staff will help you to more particularly identify records that are responsive to the purpose of your request, describe how the records are maintained, and provide suggestions for overcoming any practical barriers to disclosure of the records.
Inspection of Public Records.
Public records maintained by the City shall be available for inspection during City Hall’s regular business hours. Many records are typically available for immediate inspection at the City’s Clerk’s office; these include the Lancaster Municipal Code, ordinances, resolutions, agendas and minutes for meetings of the City Council and various Commissions, Statements of Economic Interests, and Campaign Disclosure Statements. If the request requires the retrieval, review and/or redaction of records, implicates a large quantity of records, or would impede staff’s ability to perform the City’s business if immediately performed, a mutually agreeable time may be scheduled for inspection of the records.
Processing Requests for Copies of Records.
When a copy of a record is requested, and the record cannot be produced immediately, the City Clerk will determine within ten (10) days after receipt of the request whether disclosable records responsive to the request have been identified, and will promptly inform you in writing of this determination.
In unusual circumstances, the City Clerk may extend this time limit for up to an additional fourteen (14) days, by written notice to you setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be made. The 14-day extension may be necessary if the City Clerk must:
1. Search for and collect the requested records from other City-owned facilities.
2. Search for, collect and properly examine a voluminous amount of records.
3. Consult with other agencies that have a substantial interest in the determination of the request.
4. Construct a computer report to extract data.
The City Clerk’s Office may charge the direct cost of duplication when it provides you with copies of records, in an amount established and modified from time to time by Resolution of the City Council.
The City will provide access to all public records upon request unless the California Public Records Act provides an exemption from disclosure. Examples of such records include the following:
1. Personnel or similar records that, if disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
2. Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the City is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Cal. Govt. Code Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810), until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled.
3. Preliminary drafts, notes or inter-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.
4. Certain investigative records.
5. Privileged attorney-client communications.
6. Initiative, referendum and recall petitions.
7. Other records that may be kept confidential pursuant to other state or federal statutes.
In most circumstances, when the City redacts or removes exempt information, it is able to disclose the remainder of the record.
Please visit the California Attorney General’s website, at https://oag.ca.gov, if you would like to learn more about open government and public records access.