Chapter 2.90
ACCESS TO CITY RECORDS

Sections:

2.90.010    Definitions.

2.90.020    City records declared public property.

2.90.030    Policy of the city.

2.90.040    City records subject to inspection and copying.

2.90.050    Exceptions to inspection and copying of city records.

2.90.060    City records related to litigation.

2.90.070    Request for city records – Response by city agency.

2.90.080    Fees for city record requests.

2.90.010 Definitions.

The following words and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings set forth in this section:

“City agency” means any department, division, office, board, commission, or other instrumentality of the city.

“City record” means any book, paper, file, account, writing, including drafts and memorializations of conversations, and other items, regardless of format or physical characteristics, that are developed or received by a city agency, or by a private contractor for a city agency, and that are preserved for their informational value or as evidence of the organization or operation of the city agency; “city record” does not include a proprietary software program.

“Confidential information” means information the disclosure of which is restricted by a city, state or federal law, ordinance, regulation, rule or judicial decision.

“Requester” means a person who makes a request to the city, in accordance with PMC 2.90.070, to inspect or obtain a copy of a city record. (Ord. 08-003 § 23, 2008)

2.90.020 City records declared public property.

A. All city records are the property of the city. Unless otherwise permitted or required by law, no person may:

1. Deface, alter or destroy a city record;

2. Remove a city record from the city’s possession;

3. Disclose, or allow disclosure of, confidential information in a city record; or

4. Except for a city officer or employee in the course of performing official duties, inspect or copy confidential information in a city record.

B. In addition to any other penalty provided by law, violation of subsection (A) of this section by a city employee may be cause for disciplinary action up to and including discharge.

C. The city may initiate a civil action to recover a city record that unlawfully has been removed from the city’s possession, and to obtain a remedy for any violation of the provisions of this section. (Ord. 08-003 § 23, 2008)

2.90.030 Policy of the city.

It is the policy of the city to provide a requester access to city records to serve the interest of the public in being informed about the business and affairs of the city. The purpose of PMC 2.90.040 through 2.90.080 is to carry out that policy, while avoiding unwarranted invasions of personal privacy and recognizing the public interest in confidentiality in limited areas of city business and affairs. PMC 2.90.040 through 2.90.080 shall be construed to require disclosure of all public records except those exempted under PMC 2.90.050 and 2.90.060. (Ord. 08-003 § 23, 2008)

2.90.040 City records subject to inspection and copying.

A. Except as provided in PMC 2.90.050 and 2.90.060 or by other provisions of city, state or federal law, a city agency shall make public records open to inspection during regular business hours by any requester, and provide copies of requested public records, subject to reasonable restrictions regarding the place and manner of inspection, and the payment of any fee that is applicable under PMC 2.90.080.

B. Nothing in this chapter requires the city to create public records, or to compile, summarize, outline or in any other way create information from existing public records, at the request of a member of the public.

C. The city is not required to produce public records for inspection, or to copy public records, in the exact form or medium in which they are stored; provided, that any alteration of the form or medium of a city record shall not change the substantive content of the information contained in the public record. (Ord. 08-003 § 23, 2008)

2.90.050 Exceptions to inspection and copying of city records.

A. The following city records are not subject to inspection or copying under this chapter:

1. Communications between any agency and the city attorney or other attorney engaged to represent the city which pertain to legal matters in actual or impending litigation. In addition, records privileged under the attorney/client or work-product privileges are included in this exception. However, this subsection does not protect from disclosure documents which were public records prior to the legal situation, and public records which are otherwise subject to disclosure may not be protected from disclosure by mere submission to the attorney.

2. Personnel, payroll or medical files or records, or other files or records that reveal the financial or medical status of any specific individual, the release of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

3. Records pertaining to juveniles unless disclosure is authorized by law.

4. Any records which are accorded confidential or privileged status by this code or which are accorded confidential or privileged status under state or federal law.

5. Records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of the law enforcement records or information:

a. Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings;

b. Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;

c. Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a suspect, defendant, victim, or witness;

d. Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source;

e. Would disclose confidential techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions;

f. Would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law; or

g. Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.

6. City records containing information that would disclose or might lead to the disclosure of a component in the process used to execute or adopt an electronic signature, if the disclosure would or might cause the electronic signature to cease being under the sole control of the person using it.

7. Records or information pertaining to a plan, program or procedure for establishing, maintaining, or restoring security in the city, or to a detailed description or evaluation of systems, facilities, or infrastructure in the city, but only to the extent that the production of the records or information:

a. Could reasonably be expected to interfere with the implementation or enforcement of the security plan, program or procedures;

b. Would disclose confidential guidelines for investigations or enforcement, and the disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law; or

c. Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of an individual or to present a real and substantial risk to the public health and welfare.

8. Bids until the time and date for bid opening (as may be amended); and proposals solicited for city procurement, until a final contract award has been made.

9. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information the disclosure of which would be likely to cause substantial harm to the competitive position of the person from whom the information was obtained.

10. Proprietary information which a manufacturer, consultant or provider reasonably requires to be kept privileged or confidential to protect the property interests of persons providing the information or data.

11. The name, address, or other personal identifying information of a person who has used materials made available to the public by the city library.

12. Information obtained by and in the custody of insurance carriers insuring the city and their attorneys and agents regarding possible and pending claims against the city.

13. Personal information other than name and address given to the city with the legitimate expectation of privacy in conjunction with licenses, permits or other city services.

14. Draft audit reports and supporting work papers until respective management officials have had the opportunity to review the draft audit findings for accuracy of fact and substance and provide written responses to the auditor. The maximum time allowed for this exemption will not exceed 30 days from the date of the draft audit report. Financial audits are released after council acceptance.

15. Appraisals used in property negotiations, during such negotiations, unless the city manager determines it is in the best interest of the city to release the information to the other party.

16. Income tax returns, Social Security numbers, employer identification numbers, and similar personal data, unless release of the information is necessary in litigation or an administrative proceeding.

17. Any records otherwise subject to disclosure under this chapter if the requester or the requester’s principal is in litigation with the city or a city agency in a judicial or administrative forum. Disclosure of any records relevant to that litigation, or reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence, shall be governed by the rules or orders of that forum (to include AS 40.25.122) and not by this chapter. (Ord. 08-003 § 23, 2008)

2.90.060 City records related to litigation.

A city record that is subject to disclosure and copying under this chapter remains a city record subject to disclosure and copying even if the record is used for, included in, or relevant to litigation, including law enforcement proceedings, involving a city agency, except that, with respect to a person involved in litigation, the records sought shall be disclosed in accordance with the rules of procedure applicable in a court or an administrative adjudication. In this section, “involved in litigation” means a party to litigation or representing a party to litigation, including obtaining city records for the party. (Ord. 08-003 § 23, 2008)

2.90.070 Request for city records – Response by city agency.

A. A requester shall submit a written request to inspect or obtain a copy of a public record to the city agency that is the custodian of the public record. Where required under PMC 2.90.080, the request shall be accompanied by the applicable fee.

B. A city agency that receives a request to inspect or provide a copy of a public record shall respond as follows:

1. If the city record is subject to inspection under this chapter and is readily available, the city agency may permit the requester to inspect the city record, and provide the requester with a copy of the city record, at the time the request is made.

2. If the requested city record is subject to inspection under this chapter but either the city record is not immediately available or staff resources of the city agency are not sufficient to respond to the request when it is made, the city agency shall provide the city record for inspection or provide a copy of the record as requested within 10 business days after receiving the request.

3. If the city agency must determine whether the city record is subject to inspection under this chapter, within 10 business days after receiving the request the city agency shall make that determination, and at that time either:

a. Provide the city record for inspection or provide a copy of the record as requested; or

b. State in writing that the city record is not subject to inspection, including a citation to the provision of city, state or federal law that authorizes or requires the withholding of the city record from inspection.

C. The city agency may extend the initial 10-business-day period established under subsection (B) of this section for a period not to exceed 10 additional business days by providing notice to the requester within the initial 10-business-day period. The notice must state the reason for the extension and the date by which the city agency expects to be able to furnish the requested record or to issue a determination that the record is not subject to disclosure. (Ord. 08-003 § 23, 2008)

2.90.080 Fees for city record requests.

A. The city manager from time to time shall establish the standard unit cost of copying public records under this chapter. The fee for copying a public record may not exceed the standard unit cost.

B. If the personnel time required to produce public records for one requester in a calendar month exceeds five person-hours, the requester shall pay the city agency for the personnel costs required during the month to complete the search and copying tasks. The personnel costs may not exceed the actual salary and benefit costs for the personnel time required to perform the search and copying tasks. The requester shall pay a deposit to the city agency before the search is performed and shall pay the fee in full before the records are disclosed.

C. A city agency may reduce or waive a fee when the city agency determines that the reduction or waiver is in the public interest. Fee reductions and waivers shall be uniformly applied among persons who are similarly situated. A city agency may waive a fee of $5.00 or less if the fee is less than the cost to the city agency to arrange for payment. (Ord. 08-003 § 23, 2008)