Lindsey Waltraut

I’ve been having a really hard time understanding how to send a freedom of information act requests to the San Francisco Airport. A web search gave me nothing, except for something about a “Sunshine Ordinance” though I can see that California has a Freedom of Information law in place. Can you help me understand how freedom of information requests work for the City and County of San Fransisco?

First Amendment Coalition

In California, you may request public records through the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”). Under the CPRA, all public records are subject to disclosure unless they fall within one of the exemptions created by the CPRA. “Public records” are generally broadly defined. The definition of public records in the CPRA includes most documents generated or used by the government. Government Code section 6252(e).

The CPRA creates a presumption that all records held by government agencies are public. Government Code section 6252(a). An agency that denies access to a requested record has the burden of establishing a legal justification for its decision. Government Code section 6255(a). In addition, when a request for records is denied, the agency is required to provide the requester with the reasons it denied the request. Government Code section 6253(c).

You can learn more about the CPRA on the FAC website here: CPRA Primer

In order to get access to public records, you must ask for them. If you want to make a CPRA request, please take a look at the sample letter on the FAC website here: CPRA Request Letter.

This answer was provided by the First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to defending free speech and the public’s right to know, through its Asked & Answered database, which contains responses prepared by FAC’s attorneys at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, LLP. In responding to these inquiries, BCLP gives general information but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation. No attorney-client relationship has been formed by way of this response. Have a question not answered here? Contact FAC’s free legal hotline.

Please sign up for an account and file a request to answer a question