The APCD often receives requests to view public records held by us and/or to make copies of those records. Pursuant to the California Public Records Act (“PRA,” Government Code Sec. 6250 et seq.), it is the APCD’s policy to provide access to such public records and to make copies upon request. Below is a summary of the steps to be followed by the public to view and make copies of public information held by the APCD. For our complete policy, see Public Requests to View APCD Files in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. For downloading instructions, see How to View and Download Documents.
As used in this policy, the phrase public records is as defined in Government Code section 6252(e) and includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by the APCD regardless of physical form or characteristics.
How to Request Access to Review Public Records
The public can request to view public information in writing or by e-mail. Requests should be clearly identified as a “Request for Public Information under the Public Records Act.” Requests will be directed to the Air Quality Permit Technician. The written request need not be in any particular form, but should describe the requested records with sufficient detail to enable APCD staff to identify and locate the information sought. To the greatest possible extent, please include permit numbers, company and/or individual names, street addresses, names, descriptions and dates of correspondence, reports or submittals, and similar information so that we may timely respond to your request. The request must also contain an address, phone number, and/or e-mail so we can reach you.
E-mail requests should be directed to APCDPublicRecordsActRequest@sbcapcd.org. E-mail requests sent to addresses other than this will be returned with a message requesting proper addressing. E-mail requests sent to the APCD during non-business hours (e.g., after close of business, weekends, holidays) will be assumed to have been received the next available business day.
Public records are open to inspection during APCD office hours, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for state and APCD holidays. However, for the efficient functioning of our offices, we request that you make an appointment so we can have the records available and provide space for you to review them.
If you want copies of public records, you will be asked to mark each page to be copied with a colored post-it note and return the file or files intact to the Air Quality Permit Technician. Copies are to be provided at a charge of $.20 per page and, pursuant to the PRA, payment shall be collected before the copies are released.
The Public Records Act requires the APCD to respond to requests for public information within 10 days. The response will tell you whether the information you request is available, how you can view it or get copies, the cost of providing the copies, which (if any) of the records are not subject to disclosure (see below, Public Records Exempt from Disclosure), and how to make an appointment, if needed.
Occasionally, unusual circumstances will require more than 10 days, but not more than 14 additional days, to respond to a request. In this case, you will be notified before the 10 day time limit. Unusual circumstances are defined in the PRA as the following, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request:
- The need to search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the office processing the request.
- The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records that are demanded in a single request.
- The need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another agency having substantial interest in the determination of the request or among two or more components of the agency having substantial subject matter interest therein.
A copy of the Public Requests to View APCD Files Policy shall be made available free of charge upon request to any person requesting copies of APCD’s records.
Other Considerations and Exemptions
For information regarding subpoenas, confidential complaints and informants, confidential materials, and public records exempt from disclosure, see Public Requests to View APCD Files.
A complete list of statutory exemptions is found in the PRA. Generally the APCD is not required to provide access to the following types of information:
- Preliminary drafts, notes, or inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda which are not retained by the APCD in the ordinary course of business, provided that the public interest in withholding such records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure. Note: e-mails sent and received by APCD normally will fall into this category and are not subject to PRA requests because E-mails are not kept in the ordinary course of business. E-mails that are kept in the ordinary course of business (normally indicated by printing and retention of the e-mail), however, are public records and must be produced when requested unless otherwise exempt from disclosure.
- Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the APCD is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810) until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled;
- Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
- Geological and geophysical data, plant production data and similar information relating to utility systems development, or market or crop reports, which are obtained in confidence from any person;
- Records of complaints to or investigations conducted by the APCD for law enforcement or licensing purposes. Note: the statutory exception for “law enforcement” applies only to criminal law enforcement actions and, therefore, excludes any case in the Mutual Settlement program. Records pertaining to civil law enforcement may be protected, as appropriate, pursuant to Government Code section 6255. See below.
- Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examination;
- 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 APCD also possesses the discretion to claim an exemption from public disclosure for records which do not qualify for a specific exemption under the PRA when the public interest served by withholding the information clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure. Except as required by law, the APCD does not allow public access to ‘trade secrets’ as defined in Government Code Section 6254.7(d) and Evidence Code 1060. ‘Trade secrets’ do not include emissions data since all emissions data and air pollution monitoring data are public records.