Court Says Calif. Utilities Commission Must Obey State Public Records Act

"SAN FRANCISCO — In a broad victory for government transparency, an appeals court has ruled that the California Public Utilities Commission must comply with a state law requiring all agencies to promptly release information to the public.

In a unanimous decision issued Friday, a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said the commission’s lengthy and open-ended administrative procedures violate the strict timelines of the California Public Records Act.

The ruling could bring more accountability to the commission, which has faced criticism of excessive secrecy and ineffectiveness, advocates said. It regulates corporations ranging from utilities to ride-hailing services.

The commission had claimed that a century-old law — intended to prevent abusive litigation by railroad barons fighting regulations — required people requesting records to undergo a convoluted administrative process before they could sue the agency to compel the release of public records."

Seth Rosenfeld reports for San Francisco Public Press June 20, 2022.

Source: LA Times, 06/21/2022