Public Records Requests

The following information is provided as background on how to request public records from the City of San Rafael.  The California State Legislature adopted the Public Records Act in 1968. It is designed to give the public access to information in the possession of public agencies. The Act also provides that public records shall be open for inspection during regular office hours of the agency. The public can inspect or receive a copy of any record unless the record is exempted from disclosure under the act.  Normally, a public agency has 10 days to respond to a public records request, but if the records are readily accessible they may be available sooner for inspection during regular office hours.

What is a Public Record?

"Public Records" constitute those items that are deemed open to public inspection pursuant to the terms of the California Public Records Act (Government Code §6250 et seq.) and  include any writing prepared, owned, used or retained by the City in the conduct of its official business. Writings include information recorded or stored on paper, computers, email or audio or visual tapes.

Who can initiate a Public Records request?

Anyone may initiate a request for public records.

How do I make a Public Records request?

Your written request does not need to be in any particular form but it will help us respond more quickly if you include a clear and specific description of the records you are asking for. If possible, identify dates, subjects, titles and authors of the records requested. If needed, City Clerk staff can help you focus your request by describing the type of records that we have, and providing other suggestions for simplifying access. Although not required, if you provide us your contact information (name, address, telephone number and e-mail address), it will enable us to reach you if we need to clarify your request.

Anyone with a disability who requires accommodation to access City public records should notify us of their accommodation needs.

Requests to inspect and/or copy public records of the City should be submitted in writing to:

City Clerk’s Office
1400 Fifth Avenue, Room 209
San Rafael, CA 94901

How soon must the city respond to my request?

Upon a request for a copy of records, the City shall within 10 days from receipt of the request, determine whether the requested record, in whole or in part, is a public record in the possession of the City which is not subject to any exemptions to disclosure, and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons therefore.

In unusual circumstances, the time limit prescribed in this section may be extended by written notice to the person making the request, setting forth the reasons for the extension and the date on which a determination is expected to be dispatched.

Time for inspection of public records

All records subject to public inspection may be examined by the person submitting the written request during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays) at City Hall, located at 1400 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael CA 94901.

After records responsive to the request have been located and reviewed by the City, and the City has determined that the records are appropriate for public disclosure, the City Manager or their designee shall arrange a mutually convenient time for the requesting party to inspect the records. No public records shall be removed from the City’s premises.

Fees for copies of public records

The California Public Records Act provides that a fee may be charged to cover the direct costs incurred in making copies of records or information requested. A fee of $0.15 per page will be charged for photocopies. This fee may be waived at the City’s sole discretion for requests totaling fewer than 50 pages per Public Records Act request.


The City 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 Public Records Act include: certain personnel records, investigative reports, drafts, confidential legal advice, records prepared in connection with pending litigation, information security records and information that must be kept confidential pursuant to other state or federal statutes including but not limited to records containing private information or personal health information.

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