San Diego How hard is it to get information out of San Diego State University? Very, says attorney Anne Brunkow, an opponent of the school's plan to build 540 units of faculty housing and a hotel in the Adobe Falls neighborhood across Interstate 8 from the present campus.
Almost a year ago, on June 28, 2005, Brunkow wrote a letter to SDSU president Stephen Weber asking for copies of documents such as letters, memos, and e-mails that he, his assistant Edwena Ayers, SDSU vice president Sally Roush, her assistant Nancy Lopez, and other administrators had written to each other about their plans to advance the development project. The California Public Records Act requires state institutions like SDSU to provide records upon any citizen's written request, but some agencies are more cooperative than others.
After waiting four months, Brunkow finally got a response from SDSU human resources vice president Sue Blair on October 24. "At this time, we have 6,060 pages," Blair wrote. "This is not a complete compilation as we continue to review our archives, files, and emails to collect all the communications you request." She added, "If you wish to receive the pages identified now, please provide a check made out to San Diego State University in the amount of $701.75. This cost is calculated at 11 cents per page plus postage. We do not copy the documents until such time as we receive the check."
Brunkow says she decided to wait for the university to produce all of its records before ordering copies, but she never heard back from the school. She finally wrote Blair on January 23 of this year asking about the status of the documents. "Hopefully, by now, you have completed your review and the entire group of documents responsive to my request is ready." After over a month had passed without a reply from the university, Brunkow said, she wrote another letter to Blair dated March 9. "I have not yet had a response from you as to my letter dated January 23, 2006 regarding the above-referenced matter. I expect to hear from you, or someone from your office, by tomorrow, March 10, 2006.... If I don't hear from you by the end of the business day tomorrow, I intend to pursue my legal remedies."
That brought a response the next day from Steven Raskovich, a lawyer for the state university system who is based in Long Beach. "SDSU has completed the document review, and the relevant documents number in the thousands." He went on to say that since some of the "most relevant" documents had already been divulged in a court case filed against the university by neighbors attempting to stop the project, "It may be more expedient and efficient for you to first review these most relevant documents with the court. If you conclude you still wish to review the thousands of related documents in SDSU's possession, the University will be happy to schedule a mutually convenient time."
But that, says Brunkow, was easier said than done. In a letter to Blair dated April 19, she wrote, "It has now been nearly 30 days since my last letter to you dated March 22, 2006, which indicated I would like the total amount due for copies of records responsive to the aforementioned public records request, minus copies of the Final EIR pertaining to SDSU's current Master Plan. Please let me know the amount due and where I should send my check by the close of business today." Since then, Brunkow says, she's made no progress.