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KELLY A. AVILES (SBN 257168)
Law Offices of Kelly Aviles
1502 Foothill Blvd., #103-140
La Verne, California 91750
Telephone: (909) 991-7560
Facsimile: (909) 991-7594
Email: kaviles@opengovlaw.com
JOSEPH T. FRANCKE (SBN 88654)
2218 Homewood Way
Carmichael, California 95608
Telephone: (916) 487-7000
Facsimile: (916) 487-7999
Email: terry@calaware.org
Attorneys for Petitioner
CALIFORNIANS AWARE

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SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

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FOR THE COUNTY OF MONTEREY

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CALIFORNIANS AWARE,

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Petitioner/Plaintiff,

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v.
CITY OF SALINAS,
Respondent/Defendant.

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Case No.:
VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF
MANDATE, INJUNCTIVE AND
DECLARATORY RELIEF FOR
VIOLATIONS OF THE CALIFORNIA
PUBLIC RECORDS ACT WITH
EXHIBITS A THROUGH D.
[Cal. Government Code Section 6250 et
seq.]

This action seeks relief from the failure of Respondent/Defendant CITY OF
SALINAS to perform as required by the California Public Records Act 1 (“CPRA”.) 2

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Government Code, § 6250 et seq.

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2

California Constitution, Article 1, § 3

-1VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE

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Petitioner/Plaintiff CALIFORNIANS AWARE seeks a writ of mandate,

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injunctive and declaratory relief under California Code of Civil Procedure sections 1085

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and 1060 and Government Code sections 6258 and 6259. In this verified Petition,

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Petitioner alleges as follows:

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THE PARTIES

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1.

Petitioner/Plaintiff

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AWARE

(‘Petitioner”

or

“CalAware”) is, and at all times mentioned in this petition has been, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation organized under the laws of California, governed by a
board comprised of public officials, public-minded citizens, and journalists, whose
mission includes the promotion and defense of the principles of open government. Its
offices are located at 2218 Homewood Way, Carmichael, CA 95608. As such, CalAware
has a beneficial interest in Respondent’s performance of its legal duties under the
CPRA.

2.

Respondent/Defendant CITY OF SALINAS (“Respondent” or “City) is a

“local agency” as defined by Government Code §6252(a), and is, therefore, subject to
the CPRA. The City is governed by a publicly-elected, seven-member council (“City
Council”). The City’s main office is located in Monterey County at 201 Lincoln Avenue,
in Salinas, California 93901.

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CALIFORNIANS

JURISDICTION AND VENUE
3.

This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to Code of Civil

Procedure sections 1085 and 1060 and Government Code sections 6258 and 6259.

4.

Venue is proper in this court as Respondent is located within the County

of Monterey and the acts and events giving rise to the claims occurred, in part, in the
County of Monterey.

-2VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE

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FACTS SUPPORTING THE CAUSE OF ACTION
5.

Petitioner is informed and believes, and upon that basis alleges that the

City Clerk of City of Salinas has been regularly providing the entire City Council, in
connection with its public meetings, a document detailing upcoming agenda items and
reports, also referred to as a calendar of upcoming events (“Calendar”).

6.

At the November 19, 2013 City Council meeting, during the agenda item

described as “Councilmembers’ Reports, Appointments and Future Agenda Items”,
Councilmember Jose Castaneda refers to the “report”, thanks the city clerk, and asks
questions about items that seem to be missing from the report. A true and correct copy
of the agenda for the November 19, 2013 meeting is attached hereto as Exhibit “A.”

7.

At the January 7, 210 City Council meeting, during the agenda item

described as “Councilmembers’ Reports, Appointments and Future Agenda Items”,
Councilmember Jose Castaneda references the 2014 calendar of events that he received
from the City Clerk in connection with the meeting. A true and correct copy of the
agenda for the November 19, 2013 meeting is attached hereto as Exhibit “B.”

8.

In early 2014, CalAware became informed, and on that basis alleges, that

the City had refused to release the Calendar to the public in response to a public
records request.

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Therefore, on March 4, 2014, CalAware’s General Counsel, Terry

Francke, sent a public records request to the City Clerk, asking for a copy of the
“Calendar.” A true and correct copy of CalAware’s March 4, 2014, request is attached
hereto as Exhibit “C.”

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-3VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE

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10.

On March 13, 2014, the City Clerk responded to Mr. Francke’s March 4th

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Public Records Request. A true and correct copy of Ms. Aquino’s response is attached

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hereto as Exhibit “C” and states:

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The City of Salinas is in receipt of your CA Public Records Act request
dated March 4, 2014 where you seek "a copy of the records access to which
has been requested by Mr. Dierolf to you since last November 25". Mr.
Dierolf has previously requested many documents, however I believe the
document you seek, a list of unscheduled future agenda items, is the
document you are currently requesting. This document is privileged and will
not be disclosed pursuant to Government Code 6254(a) as a preliminary draft,
note or memoranda [sic].
Please let me know if I have not properly identified the documents in your
request. This fulfills the City's obligation under the California Public
Records Act.

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CAUSE OF ACTION

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FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RECORDS ACT
(RELIEF PURSUANT TO GOV. CODE § 6258; CODE CIV. PROC. §§ 1060, 1085)
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Petitioner hereby realleges and incorporates herein by this reference

Paragraphs 1 thorough 10 of this Petition as though set forth herein in full.

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12.

The CPRA defines terms relevant to this cause of action as follows:

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"Public records" includes any writing containing information relating to
the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, or retained by
any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics….
"Local agency" includes a county; city, whether general law or
chartered; city and county; school district; municipal corporation; district;
political subdivision; or any board, commission or agency thereof; other
local public agency; or entities that are legislative bodies of a local agency
pursuant to subdivisions (c) and (d) of Section 54952.
"Writing" means any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating,
photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile,
and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of
-4VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE

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communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures,
sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby
created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.
13.

Government Code section 6253(b), provides, in pertinent part, that:

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Except with respect to public records exempt from disclosure by express
provisions of law, each state or local agency, upon a request for a copy of
records that reasonably describes an identifiable record or records, shall
make the records promptly available to any person upon payment of fees
covering direct costs of duplication, or a statutory fee if applicable. Upon
request, an exact copy shall be provided unless impracticable to do so.
14.

The Calendars sought by Petitioner were prepared, owned, used or

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retained by the City, and are, therefore, deemed to be public records pursuant to

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Government Code § 6252(e).

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15.

The City has claimed that the responsive public records are exempt from

disclosure pursuant to Government Code section 6254(a), because they are “drafts”.

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16.

Government Code section 6254 states, in pertinent part, that:

[N]othing in this chapter shall be construed to require disclosure of
records that are any of the following:
(a) Preliminary drafts, notes, or interagency or intra-agency memoranda
that are not retained by the public agency in the ordinary course of
business, if the public interest in withholding those records clearly
outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
17.

Petitioner claims that the exemption contained in Government Code

section 6254(a) is inapplicable to the requested records because the records are not
“preliminary”, the records have actually been retained in the ordinary course of
business, and the public interest in withholding the records does not clearly outweigh
the public interest in disclosure of those records.

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-5VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE

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Additionally, the exemption set forth at Government Code 6254(a) is

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inapplicable since records “‘consisting only of compiled factual material or purely

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factual material contained in deliberative memoranda and severable from its context....

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[are not exempt from disclosure]’” Citizens for A Better Env't v. Dep't of Food & Agric.

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(1985) 171 Cal.App.3d 704, 713 [citing Environmental Protection Agency v. Mink

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(1973) 410 U.S. 73, 87–89.]

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19.

The People of California have elevated the right to open government to

one protected by their State Constitution. The California Constitution, Article 1, Section
3, Paragraphs (a) - (b) state:
The people have the right to instruct their representatives, petition
government for redress of grievances, and assemble freely to consult for
the common good.
The people have the right of access to information 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.
A statute, court rule, or other authority, including those in effect on the
effective date of this subdivision, shall be broadly construed if it furthers
the people's right of access, and narrowly construed if it limits the right of
access.

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20.

Petitioner has exhausted its administrative remedies.

Petitioner has

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requested copies of unredacted, disclosable public records from the City, but City has

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refused to provide access to those public records. The only plain, speedy, and adequate

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remedy left to Petitioner is the relief provided by Government Code § 6258.

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21.

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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 to receive a copy of any public record or class of
public records under this chapter.

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Government Code § 6258 provides:

-6VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE

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Government Code § 6259 provides:

Whenever it is made to appear by verified petition to 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 subdivision (b) of Section 915 of the Evidence
Code, papers filed by the parties and any oral argument and additional
evidence as the court may allow.

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23.

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Any person interested … who desires a declaration of his or her rights or
duties with respect to another … may, in cases of actual controversy
relating to the legal rights and duties of the respective parties, bring an
original action or cross-complaint in the superior court for a declaration of
his or her rights and duties in the premises, including a determination of
any question of construction or validity arising under the instrument or
contract. He or she may ask for a declaration of rights or duties, either
alone or with other relief; and the court may make a binding declaration of
these rights or duties, whether or not further relief is or could be claimed
at the time….

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Code of Civil Procedure § 1060 provides:

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24.

Petitioner has demonstrated that an actual controversy exists between

the parties regarding the City’s responsibility to disclose records under the CPRA.

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25.

The City has a ministerial duty to perform according to the laws of State

of California, including the CPRA.

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26.

Petitioner has an interest in having the laws executed and public duties

enforced and, therefore, has a beneficial interest in the outcome of the proceedings.

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27.

Petitioner has a clear, present, and legal right to the City’s performance of

its ministerial duties, as required by the CPRA.
-7VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE

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28.

The City has a present legal duty and present ability to perform its

ministerial duties, as required by the CPRA.

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29.

The City has failed to perform its ministerial duties as required by the

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Through this action, Petitioner seeks no greater relief than would be

CPRA.

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afforded to any other member of the public.

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31.

Therefore, this Court should find that the records requested by Petitioner

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are disclosable public records and that City has violated the CPRA by refusing to

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release these records, and should order the City to immediately release unredacted

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copies of all responsive public records.

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WHEREFORE, PETITIONER PRAYS AS FOLLOWS:

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1.

That after a trial of this action, to be held on notice, this Court issue a

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declaration that:

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(a)

The records requested by Petitioner are public records;

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(b)

The “draft” exemption set forth in Government Code section

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6254(a) is not applicable to the public records requested by

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Petitioner; and,

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(c)

Respondent CITY OF SALINAS violated the California Public
Records Act by refusing to release the requested records.

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-8VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE

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2.

That this Court issue a writ of mandate ordering Respondent CITY OF

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SALINAS to perform as required by the California Public Records Act and to release

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the requested records to Petitioner;

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3.

That Petitioner/Plaintiff CALIFORNIANS AWARE recover attorneys' fees

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incurred in this action pursuant to Government Code Section 6259 and/or Code of Civil

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Procedure Section 1021.5;

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4.

For an award of costs incurred in this action; and,

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For such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper.

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DATED: July 2, 2014

LAW OFFICES OF KELLY A. AVILES

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Kelly A. Aviles
Attorney for Petitioner
CALIFORNIANS AWARE

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-9VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE