California Supreme Court Rules that Orange County Must Provide GIS Data to the Public for a Nominal Fee Under the Public Records Act

July 11, 2013  - By 85 Comments

The Sierra Club announced that the California Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that geographic information systems (GIS) data must be provided to the public for a nominal fee under the Public Records Act. The decision has broad application, confirming that information not exempt from disclosure under the Act must be provided to the public for a nominal charge, regardless of whether it is kept in paper form or as electronic data.  The Court also affirmed the public’s civil right under the California Constitution of access to government  information, holding that it can be used as a tiebreaker in case such as this, where the public right of access is disputed.

According to the announcement, the case started in 2007, when the Sierra Club requested from Orange County a copy of its GIS parcel database, containing the location and layout of each legal parcel of land in the county. At that time, Orange County licensed copies of the parcel database to private companies and public agencies for $375,000. The county also required licensees to sign non-disclosure agreements preventing further distribution. The county supported its GIS operation in part with licensing revenues from the sale of parcel data and argued that this revenue stream would dry up if the county was required to provide copies of the data to the public for a nominal fee under the Public Records Act.

The Sierra Club sued in 2009. Orange County argued that the parcel database is “computer software,” as that term is used in the Public Records Act, because it is part of a “computer mapping system.” Under the Act, software is not a public record, and software includes “computer mapping systems.” The Orange County Superior Court agreed with Orange County, denying the Sierra Club’s request to compel the county to provide the parcel database under the Act. The Sierra Club appealed and lost on appeal in the Fourth District Court of Appeal, in Santa Ana, Orange County, California.

In September, 2011, the California Supreme Court agreed to review the case. Amici curiae filed briefs on behalf of the Sierra Club, including the Media and Open Government coalition, representing newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register, a coalition of companies that provide value-added services based on electronic public records, the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group of academic researchers at UCLA, Jack Cohen, and a coalition of GIS professionals.

Attorney Sabrina Venskus, the Sierra Club’s lead counsel, argued the case in the California Supreme Court in early May. Today, the Court ruled that the lower courts got it wrong. The Court’s seven justices decided unanimously in favor of the Sierra Club, ordering that the County be compelled to provide the Sierra Club with a copy of its parcel database for the cost of producing the physical copy. Orange County will now join the other 49 out of 58 California counties that provide their parcel data to the public for a nominal charge.

The Sierra Club reported that the Angeles Chapter’s GIS Committee will use the data to make maps for its conservation campaigns. GIS Parcel data previously obtained from Los Angeles County under the Public Records Act was used to map land parcels in the Verdugo Mountains in the cities of Los Angeles, Glendale and Burbank, color-coding each parcel as to whether it was publicly or privately owned. This allowed a task force including the Sierra Club and agencies from the three cities to prioritize the acquisition of open space in the Verdugos. The club continually produces GIS maps in support of its conservation campaigns, and will put the Orange County data to good use in fighting for the environment.

The Supreme Court decision focused on GIS parcel data, but its holding applies to all types of computer mapping data. GIS data is becoming increasingly important as state and local agencies continue to incorporate it into their operations. Some agencies have requirements that all street addresses in their databases be geocoded, i.e. converted into latitude and longitude, i.e. GIS data. Applications go beyond purely environmental issues.  For example, public health agencies use computer mapping technology to track the spread of infectious diseases. Following today’s decision, all this information will be available to the public, who can use it for their own purposes, at a nominal charge.

Attorney Sabrina Venskus stated: “This is great day for California’s citizens: the public will now have appropriate access to important government mapping data – government records which are only used and useful in electronic format – and taxpayers won’t be required to pay for data they already effectively paid for with their tax dollars when the County compiled and organized those records in the first instance.”

Though the information at issue in the case was GIS data, the decision affirms a previous Supreme Court holding that electronic databases are subject to the Public Records Act disclosure requirements when they contain data that’s not exempt under the Act. This is important because agencies increasingly keep their records in databases. “The move from paper to electronic recordkeeping shouldn’t affect the public’s right to the information,” says Dean Wallraff, another lawyer representing the Sierra Club in the case.

Ms. Venskus added: “It is extraordinarily gratifying that the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of my client after having litigated this case for almost five years and suffering through two losses in the lower courts. Yet Mr. Wallraff and I felt so strongly about the public having access to this important information, and that Orange County was in violation of the law, we forged ahead despite the fact we took this case on contingency and ran the risk of working thousands of hours with no compensation. Everyone’s hard work, including amici curiae’s has been vindicated on this day.”

This article is tagged with and posted in GIS News, Mobile Devices
Eric Gakstatter

About the Author:

Eric Gakstatter has been involved in the GPS/GNSS industry for more than 20 years. For 10 years, he held several product management positions in the GPS/GNSS industry, managing the development of several medium- and high-precision GNSS products along with associated data-collection and post-processing software. Since 2000, he's been a power user of GPS/GNSS technology as well as a consultant with capital management companies; federal, state and local government agencies; and private companies on the application and/or development of GPS technology. Since 2006, he's been a contributing editor to GPS World magazine and the Geospatial Solutions website. He is the editor of Geospatial Solutions Monthly, a weekly newsletter focused on geospatial technologies. Follow Eric on Twitter at @GPSGIS_Eric.

85 Comments on "California Supreme Court Rules that Orange County Must Provide GIS Data to the Public for a Nominal Fee Under the Public Records Act"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

Inbound Links

  1. California Supreme Court Rules that Orange County Must Provide GIS Data to the Public for a Nominal Fee Under the Public Records Act | Property Records Education Partners (PREP) | July 15, 2013
  2. Free City » Recent Victories for Open Geospatial Data | August 28, 2013
  3. carpenter square 6 inch | October 7, 2018
  4. Https://www.mortaji.mx/simulador-exani-ii/ | October 18, 2018
  5. buy xmails | November 27, 2018
  6. Https://www.mortaji.co/simulador-exani-ii/ | December 30, 2018
  7. bookkeeping 101 debits and credits | April 22, 2019
  8. laureles | May 23, 2019
  9. ロレックス レディース 最新 zip | May 27, 2019
  10. カルティエ ネックレス プロポーズ pillows | May 27, 2019
  11. カルティエ 指輪 並行輸入 t5 | May 30, 2019
  12. ロレックス サブマリーナ 40mm 中古 | June 1, 2019
  13. ブルガリ 長財布 新作 vita | June 2, 2019
  14. ブルガリ ディアゴノ 楽天 中古 腕時計 | June 2, 2019
  15. ヤフオク ロレックス タイプ ポケモン | June 3, 2019
  16. ブルガリアヨーグルト エビ レシピ yahoo | June 3, 2019
  17. ブルガリ 財布 画像 スレ | June 9, 2019
  18. ロレックス エクスプローラー 売る | June 9, 2019
  19. ブルガリ 芸能人 qr | June 10, 2019
  20. ロレックス オイスター レディース 価格 com | June 10, 2019
  21. ウブロ マスターマインド g-shock | June 10, 2019
  22. ブルガリ マン エクストレーム オードトワレ 口コミ | June 10, 2019
  23. カルティエ ネックレス 男 ss | June 11, 2019
  24. カルティエ ネックレス 評価 yahoo | June 11, 2019
  25. ロレックス ブレス フラッシュフィット | June 12, 2019
  26. ロレックス オイスターパーペチュアル レビュー glay | June 12, 2019
  27. エルメスバッグ リサイクル 4r | June 13, 2019
  28. donal trump news | July 29, 2019
  29. steroids for sale australia | August 9, 2019
  30. https://www.plurk.com/Supplements4You | August 16, 2019
  1. Kris says:

    One grey area of this discussion deals with private companies who seek publicly funded, produced and maintained datasets (like parcels)and then in turn sell the data to other entities for profit. The example/case from above credits the sierra club as using the data in their operations, not directly reselling the acquired information for profit. It seems many local governments make this distinction and offer both single use and commercial use licensing (Orange County seems to have been an exception). Should there be a difference?

    • Eric Gakstatter Eric Gakstatter says:

      I think if the data is openly available to everyone, then a entity that strictly resells public data won’t have much of a position and it won’t be a sustainable business model. But, if they add value to the data and incorporate into their offering, I don’t see any problem with it. I don’t think there should be a distinction between single use and commercial use, except the commercial users will likely require more customer service from the data provider, which they should pay for.

  2. custom says:

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality
    sites on the web. I am going to recommend this blog!

  3. 192.168.0.1 says:

    Hello, i feel that i saw you visited my weblog so i came to go
    back the choose?.I’m trying to in finding issues to improve my site!I suppose its adequate to
    make use of some of your concepts!!

  4. Portraits can be retouched in a number of techniques.

  5. priyouifycom says:

    Hi great blog! Does running a blog like this require a lot of work?
    I’ve no understanding of coding but I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, should you have any recommendations or techniques for
    new blog owners please share. I know this is
    off subject however I just needed to ask. Thanks a lot!

  6. Bitcoin says:

    This site really has all of the information I needed concerning this subject
    and didn’t know who to ask.

  7. Watches says:

    What’s up, yup this paragraph is genuinely pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it regarding blogging.
    thanks.

  8. bitcoin says:

    It’s going to be end of mine day, but before ending I am
    reading this wonderful paragraph to improve
    my experience.

  9. services says:

    Very good blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused ..

    Any recommendations? Thanks!

  10. I have read so many articles or reviews about the blogger lovers except this piece of writing is really a
    pleasant paragraph, keep it up.

  11. Good info and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is truly
    the best place to ask but do you people have any ideea where to hire some professional writers?
    Thx 🙂

  12. It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I’m
    glad that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this.

    Thank you for sharing.

  13. There is certainly a great deal to find out about this issue.
    I love all of the points you have made.

  14. I know this site provides quality dependent articles or
    reviews and other data, is there any other web page which presents these kinds of data in quality?

  15. What’s up, the whole thing is going fine here and ofcourse every one
    is sharing information, that’s genuinely excellent, keep up writing.

  16. innovative says:

    Excellent website. Lots of helpful info here.
    I’m sending it to several pals ans additionally sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thank you on your sweat!

  17. Itts like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this,
    such as you wrrote the e-book in it or something. I feel that
    you simply could do with some p.c. to pressure the message home
    a little bit, but instead of that, that is fantastic blog.
    An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  18. t says:

    Hеllo, I desire tο subscribe fοr thiѕ web site tο tаke most uρ-tο-datе updates, so whеrе ⅽan i do іt рlease hеlp.

  19. You really make it seem so easy together with your presentation but I to find this topic to be actually something which I feel
    I would never understand. It seems too complex and very large for me.

    I am taking a look ahead in your subsequent submit, I’ll try to get the
    cling of it!

  20. university says:

    Hello mates, good article and good arguments
    commented here, I am in fact enjoying by these.

  21. internet says:

    Good day very cool web site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Superb ..
    I will bookmark your site and take the feeds additionally?
    I’m happy to search out so many helpful information right here within the
    publish, we want work out extra strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing.
    . . . . .

  22. I really like what you guys are usually up too. Such
    clever work and exposure! Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve you guys
    to our blogroll.

  23. For most up-to-date information you have to visit
    world-wide-web and on the web I found this website as a best webb page for hottest updates.

  24. Wine Rack says:

    Fastidious response in return of this issue with
    real arguments and describing everything regarding that.

  25. If some one desires to be updated with most up-to-date technologies then he must be
    pay a quick visit this web page and be up to date daily.

  26. concepts says:

    Have you ever thought about creating an e-book or guest authoring
    on other blogs? I have a blog based on the same information you discuss and would really like to
    have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers
    would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

  27. Good post. I’m experiencing a few of these issues
    as well..

  28. Zfrases.com says:

    Nice Post keep sharing and keep moving.

  29. wonderful issues altogether, you just gained a new reader.
    What could you suggest in regards to your submit that you just made some days ago?

    Any sure?

  30. I feel that is among the such a lot vital info for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But wanna statement on few basic things, The site taste is ideal, the articles is in reality great : D.
    Just right job, cheers

  31. dental says:

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the greatest websites on the web.
    I most certainly will recommend this web site!

  32. bitcoin says:

    You are so interesting! I don’t believe I have read anything like this
    before. So wonderful to find someone with original thoughts on this topic.
    Really.. thank you for starting this up. This site is
    something that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

  33. forex says:

    I’m no longer positive where you’re getting your info, but
    great topic. I must spend a while finding out more or figuring out
    more. Thanks for wonderful information I used to be searching
    for this information for my mission.

  34. www says:

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites
    I stumbleupon everyday. It’s always useful to read through content from other writers and use something from
    their sites.

  35. Excellent, what a website it is! This webpage gives useful data to us, keep it
    up.

  36. greatest says:

    Fine way of explaining, and nice piece of writing
    to get data on the topic of my presentation topic, which i am going to convey in school.

  37. Muhammad says:

    Ԝһat’s up to all, the contents present at thіѕ web page are genuinely remarkable for people experience, ԝell, kеep up the nice ԝork fellows.

    Нave ɑ look аt mmy weblog – カルティエ 時計 寿命
    аu (Muhammad)

  38. blog says:

    Thank you for another excellent post. Where else may anybody get that kind
    of information in such a perfect approach of writing?
    I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the search for such info.

  39. This is super helpful, thank you… hope you
    don’t mind but I am sharing this with others in my
    group (we are working on a school project and this will help with our research).

  40. What i do not realize is in truth how you’re no longer really much more neatly-liked than you
    might be right now. You’re very intelligent. You already know thus considerably in the case of this subject, made me in my opinion consider it from numerous
    numerous angles. Its like women and men aren’t involved until it is one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga!
    Your personal stuffs nice. Always deal with it up!

  41. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m
    inspired! Very helpful info specifically the ultimate part 🙂 I handle such info much.
    I used to be seeking this particular info for a long time.

    Thank you and good luck.

  42. Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your
    content. Please let me know. Cheers

  43. Admiring the hard work you put into your blog and in depth information you present.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that
    isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Fantastic read!
    I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google
    account.

  44. design says:

    What’s up friends, its impressive piece of writing on the
    topic of cultureand fully explained, keep it up all the time.

  45. Asking questions are in fact good thing if you are not
    understanding anything completely, but this article offers good
    understanding yet.

  46. Francais says:

    Simply want to say your article is as amazing. The clearness for
    your put up is simply spectacular and that i
    could assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to stay up to date with coming near
    near post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please continue the rewarding work.

  47. Hello, I want to subscribe for this weblog to obtain latest updates, thus
    where can i do it please help.

  48. marketing says:

    It’s awesome to visit this site and reading the views of all colleagues about this piece of writing,
    while I am also zealous of getting know-how.

  49. top eliquid says:

    Hello, I desire to subscribe for this web site to get newest
    updates, therefore where can i do it please help.

  50. Hi friends, how is everything, and what you desire to say about this paragraph, in my view its genuinely remarkable for me.

  51. You could certainly see your expertise within the article you write.

    The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid
    to mention how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  52. When someone writes an paragraph he/she keeps the idea of a user in his/her
    brain that how a user can be aware of it. So that’s why this post is perfect.

    Thanks!

  53. Hello to every body, it’s my first visit of this web site; this blog includes awesome and really fine information designed for visitors.

Post a Comment