- If you would like a copy of a police record please call the Police Department Records Bureau directly at (714) 754-5373. Do not file a public records requests for police records.
- If requesting Building Permits, please check our Document Search before submitting the request.
- For Marriage Licenses, Birth Certificates, and Death Certificates contact the Orange County Clerk Recorder.
The California Public Records Act
The purpose of the California Public Records Act is to provide private citizens greater access to government information. The law (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.) requires that local government agencies make public records available upon request.
What are public records?
Public records include any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used or retained by City regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.
"Writing" means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photocopying, transmission by electronic mail or facsimile, photography, and every other means of recording upon any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols or any combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums and other documents.
"Member of the public" means any person except a member, agent, officer, or employee of a federal, state, or local agency acting within the scope of his or her membership, agency, office, or employment.
Public records requests
As the official custodian of records for the City of Costa Mesa, the City Clerk accepts the Public Records Requests and coordinates with the appropriate department(s) a response within the legal time frame.
The City of Costa Mesa works diligently to be expeditious in our response and to provide the fullest possible disclosure of its records. A request to review or obtain copies of records may be made either in person, by e-mail, fax or by phone. Some records are exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act, therefore it may be necessary in some cases for staff to review the requested records to determine whether those exemptions apply before the records can be released for review or duplication.
The California Public Records Act also provides that copies of records will be made promptly available upon payment of fees that cover the direct costs of duplication. Therefore there will be a charge for the reproduction of documents or other media responsive to the request.
How can citizens obtain public records?
While a request for records may be made either in person, by e-mail, fax or by phone, you can click here and fill out the online form. If you wish to make your request in person, you may do so during the regular office hours of Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays. The Costa Mesa City Clerk’s Office is on the lobby level, at 77 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa. You may also call (714) 754-5225, if you have any questions or if you would like the form provided to you via mail or by fax.
How long will it take to get a response?
You will receive a response within 10 calendar days from the date the request was received by the City, as required by the Public Records Act. If the request is submitted after 5:00 p.m., on the weekend, or on a holiday, the date received is the next business day. The time may be extended, by 14 days, if it has been determined there are circumstances that will delay the response, and as defined in Government Code 6253. In which case the requestor will be notified of the reasons for the delay and the date by which the determination is expected to be issued.
How will the City respond to a public records request?
The responsible department will advise the person submitting the request, by telephone, e-mail or by mail of (1) the location, date, and time at which the requested records may be inspected; (2) if copies of records requested are available, and the cost of providing such copies; (3) which of the records requested are not subject to disclosure as public records pursuant to applicable provisions of the Public Records Act or Information Practices Act. The City will determine also the form in which any requested computer data will be provided.
The City may also request additional information if the records request is not specific enough to permit the identification of the requested records.
What records are not open for inspection or will not be disclosed?
In balancing the public's right to access public records with the recognized individual right of privacy and the need for government agencies to be able to competently perform their duties, the Legislature has established certain categories of records as exempt from public disclosure.A complete list of statutory exemptions is found in the Public Records Act, Government Code Section 6254 et seq. Exemption categories include some of the following:
- Preliminary drafts, notes, or inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda which are not retained by the City in the ordinary course of business, provided that the public interest in withholding such records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure;
- Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the City is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Government Code Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810) until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled;
- Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
- Trade secrets as defined in Government Code section 6254.2 (f) except as required by law.
- Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examination;
- Records of which the disclosure is exempt or prohibited pursuant to provisions of federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.