The Contra Costa Times (free registration – use: bugmenot.com) provides a simple rundown of the steps to follow when making a California Public Records Act Request. They also refer the reader to a few of my favorite First Amendment organizations. The one negative note with which I disagree concerns the redress available to the requester should the CPRA request be denied. For a fairly low cost this can be litigated, and there are many organizations which are experienced in this area.
If you’ve ever made a CPRA request to the San Jose (California) Police Department you’ve discovered that they charge a steep fee for what amounts to research time costs, passed onto the requester. This is a direct violation of the CPRA provision that permits agencies to charge only for copying costs. But no one’s sued them…yet.