National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

OC supervisors could owe Sierra Club $1 million in legal fees

From Voice of Orange County:  Orange County taxpayers could pay a $1-million legal tab for the Sierra Club because the county Board of Supervisors lost a court battle this week seeking to protect exclusive access to digital maps of the county for business groups and block free access for the public.

California’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Sierra Club was correct when it sought free access to the geographic information system maps in 2005 after an attorney general opinion called on counties to make the information available.

Orange County — which has what environmentalists call gold-plated mapping software — fought that directive, saying their products were exempt from the California Public Records Act, because they were the product of computer software. That argument held up for years in lower courts, but the state’s highest court rejected it.

Also see: California Supreme Court sides with public on cost-of-records case.