The city will defend yet another lawsuit for not complying with California's Public Records Act. The latest complaint was filed by the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation on August 14. The attorneys for the foundation, Marco Gonzalez and Livia Borak, claim the city refused to respond to a request to view environmental policy and analyses for eight large development projects.
The environmental advocacy group had requested to view the city's policy for greenhouse gas emissions and the "methodology for assessing significance for greenhouse gas emissions" under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
According to the complaint, attorney Borak submitted a public records request to view the records on August 1. That same day, the city clerk's office acknowledged receipt of the request. State law gives any public agency 10 days from receiving the request to either turn the documents over, ask for additional time (up to 14 days), or explain why the records are privileged information.
Ten days went by and the city's Development Services Department did nothing.
On August 12, Borak again wrote the city looking for a response. The city clerk's office forwarded the email to the development services. The emails stopped there.
In recent years, public officials and city employees have been criticized by media outlets and open-government advocates for shutting out the public. Currently, city attorney Jan Goldsmith and council president Todd Gloria are in the middle of a legal dispute over their refusal to disclose emails on city business that they sent on their private devices or on their personal email accounts.
Last year, the city council rejected the opportunity to place a law on the ballot aimed at improving access to city government. Among the many issues, some councilmembers cited the expense of doing so — despite offers from Californians Aware, the group advocating for the measure, to pay up to $150,000.