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I am trying to obtain GIS parcel data for non-commercial purposes. So far, most counties provide this information on their public GIS portals. San Luis Obispo and Orange County said they cannot provide the data because it is maintained by a third party (ParcelQuest) and therefore is licensed. However, the public agencies display the data (shapefiles) I need in web maps along with attribute information on their own websites:

Orange County: https://www.ocgis.com/ocpw/landrecords/

San Luis Obispo: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=3e0adee3aabd4805bd13f0d4705a4193

If I am interpreting the California Public Records Act (California Government Code §§ 6253) correctly, this data has to be provided to any citizen who requests it since the public agency is paying the private company with taxpayer money to maintain it and the public agency displays it on their own website. It even says on the ParcelQuest website they update their data "daily straight from the county assessor".

  1. (f) In addition to maintaining public records for public inspection during the office hours of the public agency, a public agency may comply with subdivision (a) by posting any public record on its internet website and, in response to a request for a public record posted on the internet website, directing a member of the public to the location on the internet website where the public record is posted. However, if after the public agency directs a member of the public to the internet website, the member of the public requesting the public record requests a copy of the public record due to an inability to access or reproduce the public record from the internet website, the public agency shall promptly provide a copy of the public record pursuant to subdivision (b). (Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 695, Sec. 1. (AB 1819) Effective January 1, 2020.)

6253.3. A state or local agency may not allow another party to control the disclosure of information that is otherwise subject to disclosure pursuant to this chapter.

6253.31. Notwithstanding any contract term to the contrary, a contract entered into by a state or >local agency subject to this chapter, including the University of California, that requires a private entity to review, audit, or report on any aspect of that agency shall be public to the extent the contract is otherwise subject to disclosure under this chapter. (Added by Stats. 2008, Ch. 62, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2009.)

Any guidance would be appreciated.

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    are you looking for parcel boundaries only? Or boundaries and assessor metadata like owners, property valuation, taxes, etc.? – mkennedy Mar 17 at 16:28
  • I am looking for parcel boundaries that just contain basic information like APN, street address, city, zip. I do not need information such as property owner names, values, etc. – rlo5029 Mar 17 at 16:33
  • So the data you want is available for free from the county, but it's not in the format you want it in? – BlueDogRanch Mar 17 at 17:55
  • @BlueDogRanch Yes and no. SLO doesn't have the address of the parcel available for public view and addresses are not confidential information. Orange county does have the information I need in public view. Section 6253 (above) states: " [If] the member of the public requesting the public record requests a copy of the public record due to an inability to access or reproduce the public record from the internet website, the public agency shall promptly provide a copy of the public record...". I cannot reproduce the public record from the public web site (i.e. the web maps they provide). – rlo5029 Mar 17 at 18:14
  • It seems that you're taking for granted that the GIS data is in fact a public record, but I bet that's where the county would disagree with you. You say the county is paying the company to maintain it, but they might instead say the company is maintaining it at their own expense, as a business venture, and the county is merely paying for access. – Nate Eldredge Mar 18 at 15:16

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