Obtaining Information & Records: How to Request Records


How to Request Information or Records from the City

Requests for information and records can be made in the following ways:

1. By using Records Online : A web feature that enables anyone with access to the Internet the ability to search and access City documents.

2. By Telephone:  Simple requests for information relating to city programs and services can be processed at the time a request is made by contacting City Center, (510) 981-CITY (2489), for referral to the appropriate department, or by calling a department directly.

3. By visiting the front counter of a department:  Each department maintains a customer service counter to assist with walk-in requests.  Departments will make every attempt to respond to your request if the information is readily available.  If your request requires additional research, the department will attempt to provide you with a response within three business days.  For locations, see the department contact list.

4. By submitting the City Clerk Public Records Request form : via email, fax (510) 981-6901, or in person at the City Clerk Department.

5. By submitting a request in writing via E-mail, U.S. Mail or Fax:  Every attempt is made to provide you with a timely response.  For addresses, see the department contact list.

Helpful Tools to Facilitate Your Records Request 

Payment Policy: The City Clerk Department accepts cash and checks/money orders only – no debit or credit card payments are accepted.  The City Clerk Department may not be able to give change for bills of $20 or greater.   Please note that the City Clerk Department accepts EXACT CHANGE ONLY after 4:30 p.m.    

How Your Request Will Be Processed

Requests for Records from a Single Department
The City is committed to making information and records available to the public during regular business hours. If you wish to review a document that is both readily identifiable and accessible at the counter of a department, the department will make every effort to accommodate you. If however, the information or records requested are not readily identifiable or accessible, the department will contact you as soon as the records are located.


Requests for Records from Multiple Departments
When the City Attorney’s Office receives a request requiring a multi-department request, appropriate department(s) are directed by memorandum to respond directly to the requesting party within 10 calendar days after the date the request was received by the City.

If you do not want to review the records but want copies sent to you, a staff member will inform you of the cost and request advance payment of copy costs and postage. If a request is particularly complex or the nature of the request makes collection of the records very time consuming because the records are voluminous, reside in different types of files, or different departments, or are located in storage, the department will contact you in writing to inform you of the delay and provide you with a date on which the records will be ready for review. For those unusually large requests for documents, the Public Records Act allows the City a 14 day extension (beyond the initial 10 days) to respond to the request.

The Department Will Contact You
Once the information and records are identified and ready for review by the requesting party, a department representative will telephone you or send a letter advising you that your records are ready for review or make arrangements for copies to be made. Standard-sized documents are copied at 10 cents per page for single-sided copies and 20 cents per page for double-sided copies. Costs for documents outside the standard 8.5 x 11" format are determined by the department. If requested, documents may also be provided in electronic format.

Additionally, crafting your request with as much specificity as possible will facilitate the most accurate and efficient response to your inquiry.  There is no charge to review records; however, city policy allows for reimbursement of any duplication costs.

Please note that certain records kept by the City may not be disclosed because the records are exempt from disclosure by law.  The California Public Records Act (Government Code §§6250 - 6270 and §§6275 - 6277), specifically §§ 6254 and 6255, provide that certain documents are exempt from public disclosure.  The types of documents that are exempt include, but are not limited to, personnel records, medical records and similar files which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy if publicly disclosed; records pertaining to litigation under the California Tort Claims Act to which the City of Berkeley is a party; memoranda from legal counsel regarding pending litigation, preliminary drafts, notes or inter-agency advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations; records of complaints to or investigations conducted by any state or local police agency; privileged attorney-client communications; initiative, referendum and recall petitions; trade secrets and criminal history information, and certain documents in which the public interest in not disclosing the document outweighs the public interest in disclosing.

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