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Public Records Request

The San Francisco Public Works public records request process is structured in accordance with the SF Sunshine Ordinance (Chapter 67 of the San Francisco Administrative Code) and the California Public Records Act (California Govt. Code § 6250 et seq). Per the Sunshine Ordinance: “Government’s duty is to serve the public, reaching its decisions in full view of the public.” Public Works believes strongly in the right of citizens to access information concerning the conduct of their government and is committed to conducting all activities with full transparency and openness. 

How to Request Public Records

Public Works has a Custodian of Records whose duties include receiving and responding to requests for public records. 

Requests for Public Works records can be submitted as follows:

  • Email: Frank.W.Lee@sfdpw.org
  • US Mail: Custodian of Records, San Francisco Public Works, 1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Place, Room 348, San Francisco, CA 94102
  • Fax: 415-554-6944
  • Phone: 415-554-6993 
Requests for records may be made orally or in writing. The request must include a reasonable description of an identifiable record or records. Please be as specific as possible when making a request. If unsure about what records the Public Works keeps, please inquire and the Custodian of Records will help identify what documents the department might have. Requests should also include a telephone number, email address, mailing address and/or other contact information Public Works can use to contact the requesting party. A request form is available for use, but is not mandatory. 

Time Allowed to Respond to a Request for Public Records

San Francisco Public Works responds to all requests for public records as promptly as reasonably possible, and provides responsive records, if any, as soon as possible after they are available. 

  • Per California Govt. Code § 6253(c), Public Works is allowed 10 calendar days to respond to a public records request. In certain circumstances, Public Works may extend its time to respond by an additional 14 calendar days. If Public Works extends the time to respond, the department will notify the requesting party in writing within the initial 10-day response period of the reason(s) for the extension and the estimated date of response.

Immediate Disclosure Requests

For simple, routine or otherwise readily answerable requests, members of the public may also request immediate disclosure of public records. These requests for expedited handling of requests for public records must include the words "Immediate Disclosure Request" across the top of the request and on either the envelope, subject line, or cover sheet in or with which the request is submitted to the Custodian of Public Records. Admin. Code § 67.25(a). Generally, Public Works must respond to an immediate disclosure request by the close of the next business day after the request is received. Public Works may extend the time to respond to an Immediate Disclosure request by an additional 14 calendar days for the same reasons, and following the same procedure, described above.

Public Works Records that are Subject to Disclosure

Some records in the possession of San Francisco Public Works are exempt from public disclosure under federal, state and/or local laws. Examples of records Public Works is prohibited from disclosing or may decline to disclose include: personnel, medical or similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; privileged attorney-client communications between Public Works and lawyers for the City; and proprietary financial information submitted to Public Works in response to a request for proposals prior to award of a contract. If a responsive record contains both exempt and non-exempt information, Public Works will redact the exempt material and make the remainder of the record available to the requesting party. 

Public Works’ Response to a Public Records Request

San Francisco Public Works will provide a written response that will notify the requesting party (1) whether Public Works has located any responsive records, (2) whether any exemptions to disclosure apply and, if so, the legal and factual grounds for the exemptions, and (3) whether any responsive records are available for inspection or pick-up. Public Works’ notice to the requesting party will generally include the applicable copying and postage fees and/or location where the records may be inspected. 

If a request is submitted to Public Works that should have been submitted to a different department, or if Public Works knows that another department may have additional responsive records related to a request it receives, Public Works will inform the requester of the other department(s) that may have responsive records. Please note that Public Works is not required to create any documents in response to a public records request.

San Francisco Public Works generally responds to public records requests in the same manner as they were received. Our preference is to communicate and transmit records via email whenever possible.

Any member of the public with questions about San Francisco Public Works’ public records request policy or procedures may contact the Custodian of Public Records at 415-554-6993 

Information about the Sunshine Ordinance public records requests process in general is also available at the following City websites: 

Download Documents

  • The public records request form is available to download here.
  • San Francisco Public Works’ procedures for responding to public records requests are available to view here.
  • San Francisco Public Works’ index of records is available to view here. Please note that Public Works is currently in the process of updating the index of records and some items may be out of date.
Last updated: 7/13/2015 3:30:19 PM