Council to deliberate on rent registry Monday July 10th – city attorney answers our questions

Will discuss how to protect private registry information on item A-1


Can the information on the rent registry be protected from a public records request?  What if it can’t?  Should we even bother with it?  That’s the question people need to be asking next Monday.  Enforcement of rent control does not need a rent registry or an expensive bureaucracy.  It simply needs outreach – so tenants know who to call if a landlord is in breach of the ordinance.

If you don’t have time to speak, you can file an e-comment at the agenda item above, or e-mail your comments to

City Attorney Heather Baker has also answered our questions about this issuePer her answers, it is not possible to redact information deemed private, even at direction of Council. 

1. The attorney who published this website claims he obtained the rental registry information under the California Public Records Act, claiming any data the city owns must be publicly accessible.  He says he will continue to get up to date information by invoking this act.  Do you agree with this?  How do rent records compare with sales tax records – which, to our understanding, are not publicly accessible?

Based on research and evaluation, including the various privacy interests at play, the City Attorney’s Office determined certain information contained in the City’s rental registry records was required to be disclosed under the Public Records Act (PRA) and not covered by any PRA exemptions.

2. Per Google doxing standards, as well as the California Electronic Cyber Harassment Law (PC 653.2), aggregating publicly available data in an easily accessible format can be considered doxing, given proper context.  In your opinion, do either of these standards apply here?  Does the city have any legal recourse to stop this website from being published in this manner?

Our Office has not reviewed this issue.  Notwithstanding, I cannot provide you with legal advice, and any opinion we would have in this regard would be subject to the attorney-client privilege. 

3. Do you think making tenant addresses and rents accessible to the public violates the privacy rights of tenants?  How about revealing landlord names and property addresses?  Namely considering many of these landlords are owner-occupiers, and this is also their home address?

All of these factors were taken into consideration when determining whether a PRA exemption would apply to the City’s rental registry records.  As mentioned above, after carefully considering these factors, it was determined that certain information contained in the records was required to be disclosed under the PRA. 

4. If the city has no legal recourse against this attorney’s website, is there a way to rewrite the rent control ordinance to protect these records from future public records requests, while ensuring landlord accountability on rents?Assuming there is a way – would you support editing the ordinance to protect information submitted to the registry?  If so, what would you protect, and what would you allow public access?  If not, what alternatives do you see to protect this information? 

The Culver City Municipal Code can be amended at any time upon a majority vote of the City Council.  City staff and the City Attorney’s Office are unable to respond to the remainder of these questions, as we receive our direction from the City Council.