Anaheim Could Destroy Planning Records

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Anaheim City Council members Tuesday night could approve the destruction of more than a dozen types of old records housed in their planning department, including dated subpoenas, Public Records Act requests, reports of investigations and expense files.

The proposed destruction would include Public Records Act requests from 2011, the year Voice of OC filed a records request for planning department emails that later prompted officials to order that “old” emails be purged.

The city later wanted to charge $19,000 to access the emails Voice of OC requested.

When the City Council votes, members won’t know how many records are being destroyed. Voice of OC has filed a California Public Records Act request to see the records before they are wiped out.

Cities regularly purge their departments of old public records. The California Public Records Act requires cities to retain documents that are less than two years old and does not allow for the destruction of court records, property title records, records required to be retained by other laws, and the minutes, resolutions and ordinances of the council and commissions.

The state warns agencies that keeping records “just in case” will only extend their “legal liability in the event of adverse litigation.”.

According to Anaheim’s Records & Information Manager Jennifer Hall, each department determines what records are due for destruction and submits a list of the types of records and time frame for purging. That list, which doesn’t specify the volume or number of records, is sent to the City Attorney, and later the Council, for approval.

“It’s impossible for me to say whether [a department has] four invoices across a year or 400,000 invoices across the year’s time frame,” Hall said. “That would be on the department level and the volume can vary based on department.”

The city of Anaheim currently has a one-year, $20,000 contract with Cintas Corp. for on- and off-site shredding and deletion of documents.

The Public Records Act treats paper and electronic documents the same. When a document turns two years old, it is scheduled for either shredding or deletion, Hall said.

Also on the agenda is a discussion on a cost analysis report of Angel Stadium, which has yet to be released publicly.

The public meeting begins at 5:00pm. To view the entire agenda, click here.

Please contact Thy Vo directly at thyanhvo@gmail.com.

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