Guidelines for Accessing Public Records
This page last reviewed August 4, 2011Californians have a right under the state Public Records Act and the California Constitution to access public information maintained by all state agencies, including the California Air Resources Board. The following are guidelines for accessing public records at the California Air Resources Board (ARB). For more information, please see our Frequently Asked Questions about accessing public records maintained by ARB.
- Direct Your Request to the Public Records Coordinator.
The ARB's Public Records Coordinator is responsible for facilitating responses
to all public records requests. If you direct your request to the Public Records
Coordinator, it makes it easier for us to track and process your request resulting
in a prompt response. Contact the Public Records Coordinator by mail or facsimile at:
Air Resources Board Public Records Coordinator
Office of Legal Affairs
P.O. Box 2815
Sacramento, CA 95812
Phone: (916) 322-2884
Facsimile: (916) 322-3928
- Written Requests Encouraged. The ARB encourages, but does not require, requests for records to be made in writing unless the request involves records maintained by the ARB for the purpose of immediate public inspection. Examples of these types of records include Statements of Economic Interest, past Board Hearing transcripts and these guidelines. Denials of any written requests will always be provided in writing. When requests are made orally, the ARB may confirm the request in writing to ensure we have correctly understood your request and to expedite your request.
- Records Defined. "Records" include any writing owned, used or maintained by the ARB in the conduct of its official business. Writings include information recorded or stored on paper, computers, email, or audio or visual tapes.
- Identifying Records. In order to help the ARB provide records promptly, requesters should provide specific information about the records they seek including names of facilities and addresses. When a record cannot be identified by name, the requester should attempt to be as specific as possible in describing the record, based on its content. When a request is not sufficiently specific, ARB staff will help the requester to identify the information, describe how the records are maintained and their physical location, and provide suggestions on how to overcome any practical barriers to disclosure.
- Inspection of Public Records. Public records maintained by the ARB are available for inspection during regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays. Members of the public are not required to give notice in order to inspect public records at ARB offices during normal working hours. However if the request requires the retrieval, review or redaction of records, a mutually agreeable time should be established for inspection of the records. In order to prevent records from being lost, damaged or destroyed during an inspection, ARB employees may determine the location of, and may monitor, the inspection. Requests for Statements of Economic Interests, Public Records Guidelines, and ARB publications usually can be provided quickly. Requests for other records may take more time because the records must be located and reviewed for any possible trade secret information. Please also note that numerous ARB databases, fact sheets / FAQs, videos, past board hearing transcripts, and state-wide air quality data (now available free on CD) are available at our website,
- Processing Requests for Copies of Records. When a copy of a record is
requested, and the record cannot be produced immediately, the ARB will determine within 10
days after receipt of the request, whether to comply with the request, and shall promptly
inform the requester of its decision and the reasons for the decision. The initial 10-day
period may be extended for up to an additional 14 days if the ARB needs to:
a. Communicate with field offices.
b. Inspect voluminous records.
c. Consult with other divisions or agencies.
d. Construct a computer report to extract data.
Whenever possible, the ARB will provide records at the time the determination is made to disclose them. If immediate disclosure is not possible, the ARB will provide an estimated date when the records will be available, and will provide the records within a reasonable period of time.
- Copying Fees. The ARB may charge the direct cost of duplication when it provides copies of records to the public ($.10 cents per page). The direct cost of duplication includes the pro rata expense of the duplicating equipment and the staff (salary/benefits) required to make a copy of the record. Direct cost of duplication does not include ARB staff time in researching, retrieving, redacting and mailing the record. When the ARB must compile electronic data, extract information from an electronic record, or undertake computer programming to satisfy a request, the ARB may require the requester to bear the full costs, not just the direct cost of duplication.
- Exemptions. The ARB will provide access to all public records upon request unless the law provides an exemption from mandatory disclosure. Examples of records exempt from mandatory disclosure under the California Public Records Act include: certain personnel records, investigative records, drafts, confidential legal advice, trade secrets, records prepared in connection with litigation, and information that may be kept confidential pursuant to other state or federal statutes. In most circumstances, if the ARB removes or redacts exempt information from the record, it will disclose the remainder of the record.
- Identification of Requesters. ARB personnel will not require that persons requesting to inspect records provide identification, or the reasons for wanting to inspect records. However, if records are to be picked up or mailed to a requester, relevant identifying information must be provided. Persons wishing to enter the Cal/EPA building must comply with security protocols, including providing identification to security personnel.
- Statement of Economic Interest. These forms can be provided by contacting the Office of Legal Affairs at (916) 322-0362 during ARB regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m..