Public Records Act

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The California Public Records Act, modeled after the federal Freedom of Information Act, gives the public access to information that enables them to monitor the functioning of their government. The Act provides for two types of access. Read a summary prepared by the League of California Cities.

  • One is a right to inspect public records: “Public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided.
  • The other is a right to prompt availability of copies of those records: “Except with respect to public records exempt from disclosure by express provisions of law, each state or local agency, upon a request for a copy of records that reasonably describes an identifiable record or records, shall make the records promptly available to any person upon payment of fees covering direct costs of duplication, or a statutory fee if applicable. Upon request, an exact copy shall be provided unless impracticable to do so.”


Under the California Public Records Act, the City of Carlsbad may deny a request if the city determines the record sought is exempt from public disclosure. These exemptions include but are not limited to:

  • Preliminary drafts
  • Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the city is a party (until the pending litigation or claim has been settled)
  • Attorney-client work product
  • Personnel, medical or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
  • Test questions and scoring keys
  • Initiative, referendum and recall petitions

Records not exempt from disclosure will be made promptly available. Within 10 days of receiving a request for records, staff will determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable records and will promptly notify the requestor of its determination and the reasons thereof. In unusual circumstances, it may be necessary to request a 14-day extension to provide a determination.

Need Help?

If you have questions or need help defining your request, call the Office of the City Clerk at 442-339-2808 or email