Ventura County, California joins the increasing collection of public agencies that are using an untested loophole in the California Public Records Act to charge the document requester for staff time.
Although the California Public Records Act clearly states that public records should be made “promptly available to any person upon payment of fees covering direct costs of duplication, or a statutory fee if applicable,” Ventura County has latched onto the “statutory fee” angle as a way to expand what they can charge for public documents.
The author goes on to give an example of how these costs (staff time charged at $65.64/hour) compromises the spirit and the letter of the law that is intended to increase citizen access to their government.
UPDATE: The arbitrariness of the imposed fee is still in effect even though the county now claims that the fee charged recently to the Ventura County Star was a mistake.
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