Are Building Permits Public Information in California?

21 Mar

Are Building Permits Public Information in California?

“Access to information regarding the conduct of the public business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person within this state,” says the California Public Records Act. The Act provides the people the right to get a huge variety of local and state government information, including building permits.


The California Public Records Act provides citizens the right to inspect all public documents of their government bodies subject to the Act, the Citizen Media Law Job (CMLP) states. These bodies include cities, counties, districts, political subdivisions, municipal corporations and their various branches, like building departments.


Public records, according to the Act, include any writing containing information relating to”the conduct of the public’s company,” regardless of the data’s physical form. That means the Act covers handwriting, typewriting, photostats, photographs, maps and electronic records. Members of the public include any person except a government employee or official acting in an official capacity.


Finding building license information doesn’t need to be a formal process. Most California cities, such as San Francisco, have permit information on the internet: Type in the address and you’re going to find information. In case the net doesn’t provide what you require, contact the Building Department or the public-information officer to the appropriate government and ask whether you can come in and examine the records.


You’ve got the right to view the original records at the Building Department during regular business hours, or to have copies created you can take away, the CMLP states. The department can charge you for photocopies — typically 10 to 25 cents — but not the team time it takes to work on your request. The CMLP urges that if you would like a great deal of documents or are not sure exactly what you want, you need to browse the permits at the office to lessen the copying expense.


Government employees have been known to refuse legitimate data requests. If this occurs, ask the person who you’re dealing with for the reason they’re not cooperating; if they can’t demonstrate the data falls into one of California’s exemptions, then speak with his superior, the CMLP urges. If the solution is still no, check whether the bureau has an administrative-appeals system. If you can’t get satisfaction like that, you can file in court to force disclosure of the data.

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