Starting in 2018 gangs of astonishingly unhinged and utterly psychopathic housedwellers and some owners of commercial property began installing anti-homeless planters illegally on the streets of Los Angeles, aided, abetted, and assisted in their outlawry by City Council offices and LAPD officers. By April 2019 I had learned that not only were the planters illegal but that the City requires permits for placing structures or large objects on public sidewalks, none of which had been issued for these planters. So, via the California Public Records Act, I began asking for records.
In particular I asked for emails between BSS investigators and various CD11 staff. Later I also asked for copies of all citations issued by BSS from January 1, 2016 on for unpermitted planters and other structures placed on sidewalks. And after the usual months-long fruitless exchange of emails between me and BSS investigator Temo Llanes, filled with lies, errors, deceptions, and broken promises, the City of LA stopped responding to me at all. Hence the suit. Which you can get a copy of here if you are interested and there’s a transcription below. Stay, of course, tuned for more info!
1. This is a petition to enforce the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) against Respondent and Defendant City of Los Angeles (“the City” or “Respondent”). Petitioner and Plaintiff [Michael Kohlhaas] (“Petitioner” or “[Kohlhaas]”) submitted two requests for public records related to the City’s Bureau of Street Services’ (“BSS”) suspected involvement in the displacement of homeless people and its activity on certain electronic platforms—all clearly identifiable records subject to mandatory disclosure under the CPRA. Despite Petitioner’s repeated attempts to obtain these records, Respondent has ceased communication with Petitioner and has not provided records in response to either of Petitioner’s requests. Respondent has thereby violated the CPRA and the California Constitution.
2. The public’s access to information is obstructed by Respondent’s clear and ongoing disregard for transparency and manifest violation of the CPRA. By this Petition and Complaint (“Petition”) and pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure §§ 1060 and 1085, et seq. and Government Code §§ 6250, et seq.,1 Petitioner respectfully requests from this Court (1) a writ of mandate to command Respondent to disclose all non-exempt information Petitioner requested and thereby comply with the CPRA; and (2) a declaration that Petitioner seeks public records subject to mandatory disclosure and that Respondent’s conduct denying access to public records fails to comply with the CPRA.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
3. This Court has jurisdiction under §§ 6258, 6259, Code of Civ. Proc. § 1085, and Article VI, Section 10 of the California Constitution.
4. Venue is proper in this Court. The records in question, or some portion of them, are situated in the County of Los Angeles, § 6259; the acts or omissions complained of occurred in the County of Los Angeles, Code of Civ. Proc. § 393; and Respondent is located in the County of Los Angeles, Code of Civ. Proc. § 395.
5. Petitioner [Kohlhaas] is a resident of Los Angeles, holds a PhD in mathematics, works as a mathematics professor at a local college, and is an open records activist. [Kohlhaas] utilizes public records requests to investigate and understand the activities of the Los Angeles City government. He publicizes his findings to the public through blogging and community events. Information [Kohlhaas] has uncovered via CPRA requests has assisted the media, academic researchers, and the public at large in understanding local government in Los Angeles. For example, the Los Angeles Times recently quoted [Kohlhaas] regarding the City’s politicized response to homelessness, and the newspaper used records that [Kohlhaas] recovered through CPRA requests to confront Mayor Garcetti’s office regarding its directive to sweep a homeless encampment in order to make way for a planned political event. In a subsequent article, the Los Angeles Times also cited records [Kohlhaas] recovered through CPRA requests similar to those referenced in this Petition regarding installation of unpermitted planter boxes on city sidewalks.3 [Kohlhaas]’s research regarding the thwarted formulation of a Skid Row Neighborhood Council, uncovered largely through public records requests, was recently featured as part of an exhibit at the Los Angeles Poverty Department Museum. Additionally, [Kohlhaas] has empowered the public to use the CPRA effectively for both research and civic activism by publishing a guide to the practical use of the CPRA in the City of Los Angeles. [Kohlhaas] is a member of the public within the meaning of §§ 6252(b)-(c).
6. Respondent City of Los Angeles is a local public agency within the meaning of § 6252(a), (d).
Background regarding BSS’s suspected involvement in erecting planters to displace homeless residents of Los Angeles
7. BSS is part of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, and is responsible for “preserving, protecting, maintaining, and renewing the City’s street network,” which includes sidewalks.4 In 2018, dozens of planter boxes were constructed on public sidewalks in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, particularly in areas that had been popular resting places for homeless people. Many activists in the neighborhood oppose the planters, arguing that they were installed with the intention and effect of displacing Venice’s homeless residents. Other similar planters have appeared in other neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles as well.
8. The planters have been a source of much debate in the community and, until recently, no one has publicly admitted to installing the planters.5 Moreover, no public authority appears to have issued permits for the planters; the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering publicly stated that the planters require permits under the Los Angeles Municipal Code, but no permits had been approved for their construction.6 See LAMC § 62.118.2. A spokesperson for Councilmember Mike Bonin, who represents Los Angeles City Council District 11 (“CD11”), which encompasses Venice, has stated that he was not aware of any city department’s involvement in the placing of the planter boxes.7 Further, a deputy city engineer stated that, even if a permit application had been submitted for planter boxes, planting rosebushes and spiked cactuses like those that were constructed in Venice are not allowed.8
9. Recently through a separate CPRA request, Petitioner obtained a copy of an email thread between Venice Field Deputy for CD11 Taylor Bazley, members of the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”), and various constituents. In the email thread, Mark Ryavec of the Venice Stakeholders Association asks for the “council office’s support for the installation of a few planter boxes on the parkway, as we previously have installed, with your support, around the Post Office and along Staples. With your approval, the LAPD can certainly support the residents in asking the campers to move their belongings by 8 am Saturday morning so the installation can go forward.” (emphasis added). Bazley initially advises that LAPD can only forcibly remove homeless residents if Ryavec has a permit for the planters, and suggests that LAPD could otherwise “politely ask but not forcibly remove people” in order to facilitate the installation of the planters. Ryavec confirms that his organization “did not apply for a permit” and asks that LAPD “ask the campers to move their stuff so the installation can proceed.” LAPD confirms its availability for such action, and Bazley coordinates a formal “clean up” of the area so that the planters can be installed.9 Since the time of this email exchange, Bazley no longer works for Councilman Bonin, and eight unpermitted planter boxes were installed with the help of Ryavec near Harding Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard.10
10. This email thread provides strong evidence that city agencies and representatives had direct involvement in the installation of unpermitted planter boxes that have displaced homeless people in Venice. Given the controversy around the planters, the secrecy of their origin, and BSS’ responsibility for maintaining city sidewalks, records from BSS regarding the planters and its other actions relating to homelessness in general are of particular importance to the public.
11. Furthermore, spokesperson for the city Bureau of Street Services, Elena Stern, stated that the city only enforces citations on obstructions to sidewalks and other public rights of way after complaints are filed.11 In addition to the public importance of the records referenced in paragraph 10, supra, records from the BSS regarding citations for illegal street furniture of any type are also of importance to the public with regards to Petitioner’s Request 2.
Respondent violated the CPRA by failing to provide public records in response to Petitioner’s public records requests.
A. Request 1
12. On May 11, 2019, Petitioner submitted a CPRA request to Respondent via email from his email address email@example.com (“Request 1”). He sent the email to three investigators in the BSS Investigation and Enforcement Division: Constancio Abracia, Blanca Madero, and Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Llanes. The request sought all emails between BSS staff responsible for investigating illegal planters on sidewalks—Assistant Chief of the BSS Investigation and Enforcement Division Elvin Galindo or BSS Investigator Marsha Jackson—and a list of named individuals who are all CD11 staff, including CD11 Councilmember Bonin. The request specifically sought emails between these individuals during the time period of January 1, 2018 to May 11, 2019, and including the search terms “planter” or “planters.” A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s May 11, 2019 request to Respondent is attached in Exhibit A.
13. On June 5, 2019, having received no response, Petitioner sent an email following up on the May 11, 2019 request. A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s May 11, 2019 email to Respondent is attached in Exhibit A.
14. On June 6, 2019, Abracia sent Petitioner an email in which he confirmed receipt of Petitioner’s request. Abracia stated that “[w]e are working on your request diligently and it is taking longer than expected. Just want to assure you it is an ongoing effort to complete the request. We will notify you once your record search returns.” A true and correct copy of Respondent’s June 6, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
15. Having received no further reply from Respondent, Petitioner sent an email on July 10, 2019, inquiring as to the status of his request and noting that it had been two months since the request was initially sent. A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s July 10, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
16. On July 11, 2019, Llanes sent an email to Petitioner, in which he stated that “[a]fter further review of your request and after consulting the City Attorney’s Office, it was determined that your records request breaches outside of the BSS jurisdiction,” and that “we are not the custodian of records for emails, including emails of BSS employees and thus cannot produce them for you.”12 Llanes’ response noted that the City’s Information Technology Agency (“ITA”) “handles email record requests,” and asked that Petitioner “fill out the attached public records request and email it to Kuljeet Arora who will be processing your request.” Llanes’ email also provided Arora’s email contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org. A true and correct copy of Respondent’s July 11, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
17. On July 11, 2019 at 3:24pm, Petitioner sent an email in response to Llanes, asking for confirmation that “BSS is not the custodian of BSS’s emails,” and “after two months of inaction I now have to ask ITA?” A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s July 11, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
18. Also on July 11, 2019, Petitioner sent an email to Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas, referencing the information from Llanes’ July 11, 2019 email and stating, “BSS appears to assert that, after two months of inaction on this request, BSS is not the custodian of records for BSS emails and I have to resubmit the request to ITA.” Petitioner asked Dundas to confirm that this assertion is “the official position of the City,” and inquired if BSS’ assertion is based on a theory that “BSS is a local agency separate from ITA, both of which are local agencies separate from the City itself.” Petitioner further pointed out that the City’s failure to respond to a request for two months, and any requirement that a request be resubmitted to a different department and restart the statutory timeline would be inconsistent with the CPRA. Finally, Petitioner stated that, in the event Petitioner is required to submit the request to ITA or any other department, to “consider that that department, whatever it might be, is represented by counsel and I am submitting this request to them via their counsel.” A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s July 11, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
19. Also on July 11, 2019, Dundas confirmed receipt of Petitioner’s email, and requested that Petitioner forward a copy of the determination on Petitioner’s request. Dundas also confirmed that, “[f]rom what you have said in your email, you do not need to make a new request to another department at this time.” Petitioner immediately responded via email a few minutes later, and provided Dundas with the email determination Petitioner received from Llanes. A true and correct copy of both Respondent’s and Petitioner’s July 11, 2019 emails are attached in Exhibit A.
20. On July 12, 2019, Llanes sent an email to Petitioner stating that “[a]fter an conversation with Mike Dundas . . . it was agreed upon to conduct an internal BSS query of the emails you have requested for production as CPRA. The emails requested from Elvin Galindo are relatively easy to do. The other staff members you requested records for Marsh Jackson has retired and we cannot query her emails. However, we will conduct an extensive search from all Investigation and Enforcement personnel who may have an email from or to Marsha Jackson and Elvin Galindo with the words “planter” or “planter[s].” Llanes further stated that “the email search wil be expedited and will be processed . . . but the approximate time of completion is currently unknown. Once we begin the process we will have a better understanding of the time frame and will advise you of the approximate time of completion early next week.” Llanes also stated that there would be no fee for these records if Petition brought his own printer or method of duplicating the records. A true and correct copy of Respondent’s July 12, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
21. Having not received any further reply from Respondent, Petitioner sent an email in response to Llanes on August 5, 2019 inquiring about the status of the request, which was at that point three months old. Petitioner also asked for confirmation that BSS would produce the requested electronic records in an electronic format, in accordance with the law. A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s August 5, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
22. Still having received no further communication from Respondent, Petitioner sent another email to Llanes on August 22, 2019 inquiring as to the status of his request, this time copying BSS staff members David Rivera, Gary Harris, and Blanca Mora, as well as Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson. A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s August 22, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
23. On August 22, 2019, Llanes responded to Petitioner, stating “[w]e are still currently working on your request for records, and have consulted the City Attorneys[sic] office for the easiest way to produce them to you. Once complete, the records will be provided to you digitally and will not incur a cost. We are striving to finalize the records as soon as possible and are now looking at completion early next week.” A true and correct copy of Respondent’s August 22, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
24. Petitioner did not receive a response during the week of August 26, 2019 as indicated by Respondent’s August 22, 2019 email. Petitioner followed up with an email on September 13, 2019—then four months since the initial request and three weeks since the last communication from Respondent—to inquire about the status of the request. A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s September 13, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
25. Later that day on September 13, 2019, Llanes emailed Petitioner stating “[w]e are currently working on the records you requested, and ensuring we are as thorough as possible. We will make it a priority to finalize your request and provide it to you as a pdf. I’ll give you an update by the end of the day today.” Later that afternoon, Llanes sent an additional email stating that he was adding an additional staff member to work on the request that Monday (September 16, 2019) in order to try and complete the request that week. Llanes also stated he would “advise . . . of our progress on Monday afternoon.” A true and correct copy of both of Respondent’s September 13, 2019 emails are attached in Exhibit A.
26. Having received no further response from Respondent the week of September 16, 2019 as promised, Petitioner sent an email to follow up on the status of this request on October 25, 2019. As referenced by Petitioner in this email, five and a half months had passed since the initial request, and six weeks since Respondent said it would have an update on records to be produced. Petitioner’s email further stated “[i]f I don’t have the records in hand or a plausible and explicit production schedule by Friday, November 1, 2019, I will consider the City to have denied me access to these records.” A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s October 25, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
27. On October 25, 2019, Petition received a response from Abracia, stating that “Lt. Llanes is indeed working on your request. Unfortunately, Lt. Llanes is off today and due to the large amount of information requested I am not sure on what the status is on your request and time frame when it will be available. As soon as Lt. Llanes returns I will advise him of your concerns.” A true and correct copy of Respondent’s October 25, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit A.
28. Petitioner has sent eight different emails to Respondent over the course of nearly six months seeking an update on his request. Since the last email communication on October 25, 2019, Respondent has ceased all contact with Petitioner. To date, now over a year since Petitioner’s request was submitted, no documents responsive to this request have been produced, nor has Respondent provided a time frame for when documents would be produced, or any justification for the delay. Respondent has thereby violated the CPRA.
B. Request 2
29. On July 10, 2019, Petitioner submitted a CPRA request to Respondent via email from his email address email@example.com (“Request 2”). He sent the email to five different BSS Investigators: Abracia, Karen Bowie, Timothy Walls, David Garcia, and Anna Robinson.13 The request sought all “citations, violation letters, and similar records generated by actual citations, for illegal street furniture of any type from January 1, 2016 through July 10, 2019. This should include fencing, planters, plants, rocks, big ugly rusting metal sculptures, and any other objects for which people have been cited.” A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s July 10, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit B.
30. Petitioner did not receive a response to this Request 2, and sent an email one month later on August 5, 2019 to follow up on the status of the request, and noting that a response was due
two weeks prior. A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s August 5, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit B.
31. Having still received no response to this request six weeks after submitting it to Respondent, Petitioner sent another email on August 22, 2019 to follow up. A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s August 22, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit B.
32. Again, Respondent did not reply to Petitioner’s repeated emails, or even acknowledge receipt of the request. Petitioner sent another email on September 13, 2019 to the BSS investigators—now with Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson on copy—to inquire yet again on the status of this request. A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s September 13, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit B.
33. Shortly thereafter, also on September 13, 2019, Wilson responded via email to Petitioner, stating “I will check in with BSS today for a status update.” A true and correct copy of Respondent’s September 13, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit B.
34. On September 18, 2019, now over two months since the request was submitted, Petitioner finally received a response from Llanes at BSS acknowledging receipt of the July 10, 2019 request. Llanes’ email stated “[w]e are still working on this request. Once we finalize all the records, we will be sending them to you as a pdf at no charge.” A true and correct copy of Respondent’s September 18, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit B.
35. After waiting more than five additional weeks without a response, Petitioner sent an email on October 25, 2019 to Llanes inquiring on the status of this request, adding on copy Abracia, Rivera, Harris, Mora, Madero, and City Attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan. Referencing his other email from October 25, 2019 regarding Request 1, Petitioner stated “[s]ame deal here. By Friday, November 1.” A true and correct copy of Petitioner’s October 25, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit B.
36. Later that day on October 25, 2019, Abracia sent an email informing Petitioner that Llanes was out of the office that day and “due to the large amount of information requested I am not sure on what the status is on your request and time frame when it will be available. As soon as Lt. Llanes returns I will advise him of your concerns.” This email was an exact copy of the email Abracia had sent to Petitioner only a minute earlier in response to Petitioner’s October 25, 2019 follow-up email for Request 1. A true and correct copy of Respondent’s October 25, 2019 email is attached in Exhibit B.
37. Despite Petitioner’s four emails over a more than three-month period to various members of BSS and the City Attorney’s office, Respondent has failed to meaningfully reply to Petitioner or engage in this request whatsoever. As of today, over ten months since this request was submitted, Petitioner has not received a single record that responsive to this request or any substantive response from Respondent. Respondent has thereby violated the CPRA.
38. By failing to adequately respond to Petitioner’s repeated requests for clearly identifiable public records subject to disclosure, Respondent has completely disregarded the need for government transparency and continues to prevent the public from accessing information that is of great public concern. Respondent impermissibly delayed Petitioner’s access to records, with little to no justification, and failed to provide Petitioner with even a single record in response to either of these two requests. Now, over a year since Petitioner submitted his first request for public records subject to mandatory disclosure, Respondent continues to ignore Petitioner’s requests and fails to approach anywhere near the prompt response required by law. See § 6253(b).
39. Petitioner understands that some reasonable delay may be warranted in light of government closures and modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Respondent’s lack of any meaningful or prompt response to these requests had already occurred to an unreasonable degree, many months before L.A. County even reported its first known exposure to COVID-19. Respondent’s failure to produce public records effectively shields Respondent from public accountability, in addition to being a violation of the CPRA. Particularly given recent public concern over the unlawful construction of planters and other sidewalk furniture, as well as the City’s suspected involvement in the displacement of its homeless residents without public oversight, there is an extremely strong public interest in the requested public records. Judicial action is therefore necessary to enforce the requirements of the CPRA against Respondent.
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION:
VIOLATION OF THE CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 1, § 3(b)
40. Petitioner incorporates herein by reference the allegations of paragraphs 1 through 38 above, as if set forth in full.
41. The California Constitution recognizes that the people have a right of access to government records “concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.” Cal. Const., Art. I § 3(b)(1). This right is self-executing as the provisions of the California Constitution are mandatory and prohibitory. Cal. Const., Art. I § 26.
42. The California Constitution, therefore, directs the courts to broadly construe statutes that grant public access to government information and to narrowly construe statutes that limit such access. Cal. Const., Art. I § 3(b)(2).
43. Respondent’s failure to provide records in response to Petitioner’s public records requests violates Article I, Section 3(b) of the California Constitution.
SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION:
VIOLATION OF THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RECORDS ACT,
GOV’T CODE §§ 6250, et seq.
44. Petitioner incorporates herein by reference the allegations of paragraphs 1 through 42 above, as if set forth in full.
General Principles of the CPRA
45. Under the CPRA, all records that are prepared, owned, used, or retained by any public agency and that are not subject to the CPRA’s statutory exemptions to disclosure, must be made publicly available for inspection and copying upon request. Gov’t Code §§ 6253(a)-(b).
46. When a member of the public submits a records request to an agency, the agency is given 10 days to determine whether the request seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency, and must promptly notify the requestor of that determination and the reasons therefore. Id. § 6253(c). In statutorily-identified “unusual circumstances,” and “only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request,” this time period may be extended a maximum of 14 days. Id. § 6253(c)-(d). It is also unlawful for an agency “to delay or obstruct the inspection of public records.” Id. § 6253(d).
47. Any person may institute proceedings for injunctive or declarative relief or writ of mandate in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce his or her right to inspect or receive a copy of any public record.” Id. § 6258.
48. Whenever it is made to appear by verified petition of the Superior Court of the county where the records or some part thereof are situated that certain public records are being improperly withheld from a member of the public, the Court shall order the officer or person charged with withholding the records to disclose the public record or show cause why he or she should not do so. The Court shall decide the case after examining the record in camera (if permitted by the Evidence Code), papers filed by the parties, and any oral argument and additional evidence as the court may allow. Id. § 6259(a).
49. If the Court finds that the failure to disclose is not justified, it shall order the public official to make the record public. Id. § 6259(b).
50. To ensure that access to the public’s information is not delayed or obstructed, the CPRA requires that “[t]he times for responsive pleadings and for hearings in these proceedings shall be set by the judge of the court with the object of securing a decision as to these matters at the earliest possible time.” § 6258.
51. A petitioner prevails under the CPRA where the petitioner shows that an agency unlawfully denied access to records, and an agency is not protected from liability merely because this denial was due to the agency’s internal logistical problems or general neglect of its duties. Community Youth Athletic Center v. City of Nat’l City (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1385, 1446-1447.
52. Public policy favors judicial enforcement of the CPRA. The CPRA contains mandatory attorney’s fee provision for the prevailing plaintiff. § 6259(d). The purpose of the provision is to provide “protections and incentives for members of the public to seek judicial enforcement of their right to inspect public records subject to disclosure.” Filarsky v. Super. Ct. (2002), 28 Cal.4th 419, 427.
Respondent Unlawfully Denied Access to Petitioner’s Requested Public Records
53. Here, Petitioner submitted requests for clearly identifiable public records that would shed light on the City’s suspected involvement in the installation of unlawful planters and other furniture on public sidewalks, and its actions related to displacement of the city’s homeless population. Respondent denied all access to these records through impermissible and unreasonable delay, as well as nonresponse.
54. Respondent failed to make a determination of disclosability within 10 days of Petitioner’s requests. See Gov’t Code § 6253(c). Respondent failed to make a proper or definitive estimate as to when the requested records would be produced, failed to meet its own estimated dates of production. See id.
55. Most egregiously, in many cases Respondent failed to provide even a single public record in response to both of Petitioner’s requests by simply ignoring Petitioner altogether. Petitioner sent multiple follow-up communications on his requests with little to no response from Respondent. In the limited replies from Respondent, these communications lacked any reason for withholding the public records, failed to provide any justification for the delay in producing any records, and provided hollow promises of deadlines for production and/or updates that were consistently missed.
56. By denying Petitioner’s request for public records, Respondent is violating the clear language of the statute, as well as the essential aim of the CPRA, which stands for the principle that:
Openness in government is essential to the functioning of democracy. Implicit in the democratic process is the notion that government should be accountable for its actions. In order to verify accountability, individuals must have access to government files. Such access permits checks against the arbitrary exercise of official power and secrecy in the political process.
City of San Jose v. Super. Ct., 2 Cal.5th (2017) 608, 615 (citing Int’l Fed. of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21, AFL-CIO v. Super. Ct. (2007) 42 Cal.4th 319, 328-29).
57. Respondent’s failure to provide these requested records—whether due to negligence or an intentional attempt to hide its actions from the public—demonstrates an utter lack of transparency, an abuse of the democratic process, and a flagrant violation of the CPRA. Judicial intervention and determination is required as a result of Respondent’s pervasive and continuous violations of the law.
58. Petitioner has performed all conditions precedent to filing this petition. There are no administrative exhaustion requirements under Gov’t Code §§ 6250, et seq.
59. An actual controversy exists between the parties concerning whether Respondent has engaged in conduct that violates the statutory requirements of the CPRA. A judicial determination to resolve this actual controversy is necessary and appropriate at this time.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Petitioner respectfully requests the following:
1. A peremptory writ of mandate directing Respondent to immediately provide Petitioner with all the requested records, except any records that the Court determines may lawfully be withheld;
2. A declaration that Petitioner’s public records act requests at issue in this Petition seek public records which are subject to mandatory disclosure and that Respondent violated the CPRA by its acts and omissions detailed in this Petition;
3. An order awarding Petitioner reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred in bringing this action, as provided in Gov’t Code § 6258 and Code of Civil Procedure § 1021.5; and
4. Such other and further relief as the Court deems proper and just.
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