Public Records

What is a Public Records Request?

A Public Records Request allows individuals to obtain copies of documents and records held by the Town of Fairfax. This service promotes transparency and accountability in local governance. Residents, journalists, and researchers commonly use this service to access information.

Before submitting a Public Records Request

Before making a request, consider checking if the document you need is already available online. This can save time and resources for both you and the staff. View the Code and other publicly available documents here.

Submit a Public Records Request

If you cannot find the records you seek via the links above, the next quickest way to access public records is to complete the Public Records Request Form. This form should be filled out with specific details about the documents you are seeking to ensure a swift and accurate response.

About the California Public Records Act

The California Public Records Act (Govt. Code § 7920.000 et seq.) mandates that public access to government information be provided, unless expressly exempt under the law. The Town of Fairfax adheres to this act by making records available, except where prohibited by law. Notably, under Govt. Code § 7920.530(a), the Town is not required to create new records or compile lists in response to a request.

Submit a Public Records Request

Frequently asked questions

Public records mean any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used or retained by the Town regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.

Please note that records are not inquiries and the Town is under no legal obligation to create a record that does not already exist during the regular course of its business.

A question and a public records request are not the same thing, although they both involve seeking information.
A question is a general inquiry for information, often posed in conversation or communication, seeking an immediate response or clarification.

On the other hand, a public records request is a procedure governed by law, usually in the context of government agencies or public institutions. It involves requesting access to documents, data, or other materials held by a government agency or public entity. These requests typically have specific procedures and timelines for response, as well as legal requirements regarding what information can be released and under what circumstances.

While both involve seeking information, a question is a general inquiry, whereas a public records request is a legal process for obtaining specific existing documents or data from government agencies or public institutions. The law recognizes that staff are fully committed to work serving the whole town, thus creating new reports in response to a question is not required.

You can review public records at Town Hall during regular office hours, which are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays. We encourage you to call the Clerk’s Office at (415) 458-2343 to make an appointment if you decide to come in person.

The Town will make copies of records for members of the public upon request. The California Public Records Act provides that copies of records will be made promptly available upon payment of fees that cover the direct costs of duplication, which are generally the costs of running a copy machine.

In some cases (especially with voluminous records), the Town may send its records to a bonded copy service, rather than copying them in the office. The person requesting the records must pay the copy service’s charges before receiving the copies.

The Town shall determine within 10 days from the receipt of a public records request whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records in possession of the Town. [Government Code 7927.535(a)]

If the information is in hard copy only and must be photocopied, or if you desire a hard copy printout, the cost is 10 cents per page. If the information you request is available in an electronic format and you desire it in that format, the file(s) can be copied to a DVD/CD/USB at a cost of $7.00.

Actual costs to cover other types of reproduction will be charged.

There is no fee to have a reasonable number of records emailed to you.

In balancing the public’s right to access public records with the recognized individual right of privacy and the need for government agencies to be able to competently perform their duties, the Legislature has established certain categories of records as exempt from public disclosure.
A complete list of statutory exemptions is found in the Public Records Act, Government Code Section 7921.000 et seq. Exemption categories include some of the following:

  1. Preliminary drafts, notes, or inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda which are not retained by the Town in the ordinary course of business, provided that the public interest in withholding such records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure;
  2. Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the Town is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Government Code Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810) until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled;
  3. Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
  4. Trade secrets as defined in Government Code Section 7924.305(f) except as required by law.
  5. Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examination;
  6. 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 Town also has the discretion not to disclose records that do not qualify for a specific exemption under the Public Records Act if it determines that the public interest served by not making the record public clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure, pursuant to Government Code Section 7922.000. The Town’s determination to disclose a particular record, which may otherwise be exempt from disclosure, does not constitute a waiver with respect to any other records. Please note that you will be notified if a determination is made to deny access to records and why.

In responding to information requests, we will advise the person submitting the request, by telephone, email, or by US mail as appropriate, of (1) the location, date, and time at which the requested records may be inspected; (2) if copies of records are requested, the cost of providing such copies; (3) which of the records requested are not subject to disclosure as public records pursuant to applicable provisions of the Public Records Act or Information Practices Act. The Town will determine the form with which any requested computer data will be provided. If the request is reasonable, we’ll respond by email with the requested documentation.

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