Chapter 2.51
PUBLIC RECORDS DISCLOSURE

Sections:

2.51.010    Purpose of chapter.

2.51.020    Interpretation and construction of provisions.

2.51.030    Public records available.

2.51.035    Public records officer - Appointment and duties.

2.51.040    Public records specialists - Appointment and duties.

2.51.050    Requests - Form - Information required.

2.51.060    Informal requests permitted - When.

2.51.070    Requests for lists of individuals - Affidavit required.

2.51.080    Review of denials of public records.

2.51.100    Charges for copying.

2.51.110    Certain records exempt.

2.51.120    Exemption from requirement to maintain a current records index

2.51.010 Purpose of chapter.

The purpose of this chapter is to ensure compliance with the provisions of chapter 42.56 RCW and other applicable law relating to disclosure of public records.

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003; Eff date May 1, 2003; Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date July 1, 2006)

2.51.020 Interpretation and construction of provisions.

The provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to provide public access to public records concerning the conduct of government, mindful of individuals’ privacy rights and the desirability of the efficient administration of government.

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003, Eff Date May 1, 2003; Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date May 4, 2006; Amended by Ord. 10-061, August 18, 2010, Eff date Aug. 30, 2010)

2.51.030 Public records available.

The county executive and each county department, agency, division, board, office bureau and commission shall make available for public inspection and copying all public records the disclosure of which is required by chapter 42.56 RCW or other law.

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003, Eff date May 1, 2003; Amended by Ord. 10-061, Aug. 18, 2010, Eff date Aug. 30, 2010)

2.51.035 Public records officer - Appointment and duties.

(1) The director of information services shall appoint a public records officer who shall provide centralized oversight, guidance and leadership to fulfill public records request for the county.

(2) Subject to subsection (3) of this section, the public records officer shall:

(a) Serve as a point contact for members of the public in requesting disclosure of public records, provided that requests may also be presented to public records specialists or their designees pursuant to SCC 2.51.050;

(b) Oversee compliance with the public disclosure requirements of this chapter; and

(c) Adopt such policies and procedures as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter consistent with applicable laws.

(3) Final decision-making authority over public disclosure of records of the legislative branch of government shall be vested in the chairperson of the county council or the chairperson’s designee.

(4) The public records officer shall publish his or her name and contact information in a way reasonably calculated to provide notice to the public, including posting at the county’s primary place of business, posting on the county’s internet site, or including in county publications.

(Added Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date May 4, 2006; Amended by Ord. 10-061, Aug. 4, 2010, Eff date Aug. 30, 2010; Amended by Amended Ord. 16-021, May 11, 2016, Eff date May 23, 2016)

2.51.040 Public records specialists - Appointment and duties.

The chairperson of the county council, each elected executive officer, the director of each department appointed by the county executive, and each board, agency, bureau, division, office or commission within the executive or legislative branch having custody or control of public records shall appoint a public records specialist who shall have charge of the public records in the custody or control of those officials, departments, boards, agencies, bureaus, divisions, offices and commissions. Public records specialists shall implement this chapter, policies and procedures adopted by the public records officer under SCC 2.51.035(2)(c) and other applicable laws relating to disclosure of public records.

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003, Eff Date May 1, 2003; Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date May 4, 2006; Amended by Ord. 10-061, Aug. 4, 2010, Eff date Aug. 30, 2010)

2.51.050 Requests - Form - Information required.

(1) The public records officer shall provide a set of uniform public disclosure request forms for use throughout the executive and legislative branches of county government. All requests for public records shall be presented in writing to the public records officer or to the public records specialist or designee of the department, office, agency, board, bureau, division or commission believed to be responsible for the records being requested. The request shall include the following:

(a) The name and contact information of the person making the request for the record;

(b) Reasonable notice that the request is for the disclosure of public records pursuant to the public records act;

(c) Identification of the requested records by reference to names, title, subject matter, and time frames, or other means adequate for the public disclosure officer, public records specialist, or designee to locate the requested records; and

(d) Whether or not such request is for a list of individuals.

(2) Upon receiving a request the public records officer, public records specialist or designee shall document the date the request was received. If a request is presented to a public records specialist or designee and not to the public records officer, the public records specialist or designee shall transmit a copy of the request to the public records officer.

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003, Eff Date May 1, 2003; Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date May 4, 2006; Amended by Ord. 10-061, Aug. 4, 2010, Eff date Aug. 30, 2010)

2.51.060 Informal requests permitted - When.

Departments and offices of elected or appointed officials having records that have customarily been open to public inspection and/or copying may, at the option of the heads of such departments or offices, permit inspection and copying without requiring such requests in writing.

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003, Eff Date May 1, 2003; Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date May 4, 2006).

2.51.070 Requests for lists of individuals - Affidavit required.

In the case of a request for records that may contain a list of individuals, the person making the request will furnish an affidavit either:

(1) That states that he/she is not requesting the list for commercial purposes; or

(2) That states that he/she is specifically authorized or directed by law to obtain the list of individuals for commercial purposes, and that identifies such law.

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003, Eff date May 1, 2003).

2.51.080 Review of denials of public records.

(1) Any person who objects to the initial denial or partial denial of a request for a public record subject to chapter 42.56 RCW may petition in writing (including e-mail) to the public records officer for a review of that decision. The petition shall include a copy of or reasonably identify the decision denying the request.

(2) If the petition concerns records of the executive branch of county government the public records officer shall serve as the reviewing authority unless the public records officer made the original decision in which case the county executive shall designate a different county officer as the reviewing authority, which designation may be made on a case-by-case or other basis. If the petition concerns records of the legislative branch of county government, the officer having final decision-making authority under SCC 2.51.035(3) shall serve as the reviewing authority, and the public records officer shall promptly provide the petition and other relevant information to that officer.

(3) The reviewing authority shall consider the petition and affirm or reverse the denial within two business days after the public records officer’s receipt of the petition, or within such other time as the county and the requestor may mutually agree.

(4) A person whose public records request is denied may seek judicial review at the conclusion of two business days after the initial denial regardless of any internal administrative appeal.

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003, Eff date May 1, 2003; Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date May 4, 2006; Amended by Ord. 10-061, Aug. 4, 2010, Eff date Aug. 30, 2010).

2.51.100 Charges for copying.

(1) No fee shall be charged for the inspection of public records under this chapter.

(2) No fee shall be charged for locating public documents and making them available for copying.

(3) The County shall charge fees for copies of records pursuant to the default fees in RCW 42.56.120(2)(b) and (c).

(4) The County shall charge fees for customized services pursuant to RCW 42.56.120(3).

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003, Eff date May 1, 2003; Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date May 4, 2006; Amended by Ord. 10-061, Aug. 4, 2010, Eff date Aug. 30, 2010; Amended by Emergency Ord. 17-055, Aug. 9, 2017, Eff date Aug. 9, 2017).

2.51.110 Certain records exempt.

Public records that are not subject to disclosure under state law, that are described as exempt by chapter 42.56 RCW, or that are required to be withheld by any other law, are exempt from disclosure under this chapter.

(Added Amended Ord. 03-024, April 16, 2003, Eff Date May 1, 2003; Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date July 1, 2006; Amended by Ord. 10-061, Aug. 4, 2010, Eff date Aug. 30, 2010).

2.51.120 Exemption from requirement to maintain a current records index

(1) The County Council finds that Snohomish County government is comprised of many branches, boards, departments, divisions, agencies, offices, and commissions, which maintain separate records and incompatible record-keeping systems. The county’s records are voluminous, diverse, complex and stored in multiple locations and in multiple incompatible data bases. As a result, it would be unduly burdensome and costly to the Snohomish County taxpayers, and would substantially interfere with effective and timely county office operations to develop an index of those records identified in RCW 42.56.070(3).

(2) No Snohomish County official, branch, agency, board, department, division, office, commission or other Snohomish County entity is required to maintain an index of public records conforming to the requirements of RCW 42.56.070(3).

(3) Any index maintained by an individual branch, agency, board, department, division, office or commission shall be made available for public inspection and copying unless exempt from disclosure or made confidential by law.

(Added Ord. 04-142, Jan. 19, 2005 Eff date Jan. 31, 2005; Amended Ord. 06-019, April 19, 2006, Eff date July 1, 2006))