Public Records

In accordance with the Washington State Public Records Act, the City of Spokane Valley provides access to public records while striving to make the process as simple as possible. Many public records are readily available in the city’s Laserfiche archive. However, some records are not automatically posted for many reasons, including that they may not be of widespread interest, are simply too large, or contain confidential information. Many of these records may be obtained through a public records request, although there are some exemptions to disclosure as determined by state law.

Understanding Records Requests

All records maintained by the City are available for public inspection unless specifically exempted by law. You are entitled to access public records, under reasonable conditions, and copies of those records can be provided. In most cases, you do not have to explain why you want the records. However, specific information may be necessary to process your request. The City may require further information to establish if disclosure would violate certain provisions of law.

The more precisely you can identify the record(s) you seek, the more responsive city staff can be. The City provides access to existing public records in its possession but is not required to collect information or organize data to create a record not existing at the time of the request. Keep in mind that a question or request for information only is not a request for a record.

Submitting a Request

Requests for records should be submitted through the Public Records Center, where you can submit requests, download records, monitor the status of previously submitted requests, and communicate with the City Clerk's Office regarding your request(s).

Your request needs to be specific, and the request should include:

  • The subject of interest or type of documents you are seeking
  • The address, location or site information, if applicable
  • The specific dates or date range for which you are requesting records
  • An email, phone number or mailing address for return correspondence 

The City prefers you submit a public records request through the Public Records Center. However, public records may also be requested by:

Government Obligation

Local governments are not required to create documents to comply with a request for specific information. Rather, they must produce existing records for review and copying. Also, local governments are not obligated to compile information from various records so that information is in a form that is more useful to the requestor.

The City will make records available for inspection and copying by appointment during normal business hours, excluding legal holidays. Requestors will not remove documents from the viewing area or disassemble or alter any document.

The requestor will indicate which documents they wish the City to copy.

Records Index

There is no single index of City records. The City of Spokane Valley has multiple locations and numerous departments. The records are complex and stored in multiple locations. The City Clerk’s Office will coordinate with departments to ensure compliance with the Public Records Act.

Cost of Requested Records

Fees

There is no fee for inspecting public records, however, it is the intent of the City to recover the costs of providing public records when the total cost, including but not limited to the per page, device, envelope, or postage costs, amounts to $5.00 or more.

Fees associated with provided records can be found on the city's Fee Schedule.

Payments

Payments can be made electronically through the Public Records Center or by cash, check or money order payable to the City of Spokane Valley.

Large Requests

For large requests, the City may:

  • Provide copies in installments
  • Require a deposit of 10% of the estimated cost
  • Require advanced payment before providing further installments

Records Exempt from Disclosure

When exemptions apply to certain records, according to Washington state law, the City may not disclose that information. In such cases, the City will apply redactions as necessary. Whenever redactions are used in a provided record, a redaction log will be attached including which exemptions were used and their descriptions.

Common Exemptions

The following outlines the most common exemptions that may apply to records requested from the City of Spokane Valley. This is not an exhaustive list; for more information regarding exemptions, see links under the resource section below.

Exemptions

RCW  
42.56.230 Personal information
42.56.235 Religious affiliation
42.56.240 Investigative, law enforcement and crime victims
42.56.250 Employment and licensing
42.56.260 Real estate transactions
42.56.270 Financial, commercial and proprietary information 
42.56.280 Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, intra-agency memorandums
42.56.290 Agency party to controversy (attorney work product)
42.56.420 Security
5.60.060 Who is disqualified - privileged communications (attorney-client privilege)
70.02.005 Medical records - findings
82.32.330 Disclosure of return or tax information 

Commercial Purpose

The City is prohibited from providing access to lists of individuals if a requestor is requesting the records for commercial purposes. To receive the requested list, you must attest that you will not use this list for commercial purposes. You must complete and submit the Commercial Purpose Declaration to the City Clerk’s office.

“Commercial Purpose” is defined as any business activity intended to generate revenue or financial benefits.

Resources

Response to Records Requests

The City will respond to a request for public records within five (5) business days. We will respond by:

  • Acknowledging receipt of the request and providing an estimate of time required to respond; or
  • Providing the records for inspection or copying after payment of any applicable fees; or
  • Indicating that we have no documents that meet the criteria of the request; or
  • Denying the request. If a request for public records is denied or a portion of the request is denied, the specific sections within the Public Records Act justifying the denial will be provided.

If a requestor does not receive a response within five (5) business days, they should contact the City Clerk’s Office to determine the reason.

Requesting Review of Denials

A requestor may send a written petition to the City Clerk’s Office to have any disclosure denial reviewed. 

Within two (2) business days of an initial denial, a requestor may obtain a court review. See the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 42.56.550 for more information.

Special Considerations

If a requestor has not reviewed or claimed records within thirty (30) days of notice that records are available or fails to make payment, the City may close the request.

If requested records contain information that may affect the rights of others, before providing the records, the City may give notice and allow time for action by the other parties.

After a request has been filled, if the City becomes aware of additional responsive records existing at the time of the request, those records will be provided to the requestor on an expedited basis.