History of California - Public Record Laws
California, "The Golden State" obtained statehood on September 9, 1850. It is the third largest state in the country at 158,706 square miles with the largest state population. The state motto is the Greek word "Eureka" meaning "I have found it". It has appeared on the state seal since 1849. The state seal was designed by US Army Major R.S. Garnett. The seal depicts the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva with a grizzly bear and a cluster of grapes at her feet. A miner working near the Sacramento River with the Sierra Nevada peaks above. At the edge of the seal are 31 stars for the 31 states at California's time of admission. In much the same way that Minerva sprung full grown from the head of Jupiter, California became a state without having to go through a territorial stage. California has an array of state symbols including the State Animal which is the California Grizzly Bear. Also designated to symbolize this beautiful state are the State Colors of blue and gold and state flower the Golden Poppy. California was the first state to designate an official state rock in 1965, Serpentine. In 1985 California was the first to designate a State Prehistoric Artifact. A chipped stone bear discovered at an archaeological dig in San Diego County. Other symbols are the State Bird (the California Valley Quail), Tree (California Redwood), Mineral (Gold) and Fossil (Saber-toothed Cat). The official State Song is "I Love You California" written by Los Angeles merchant F.B. Silverwood. In the contiguous (lower) 48 states, the highest point is California's Mt. Whitney, at 14,495 feet and is less than 100 miles from Death Valley California, the lowest point in North America. The capitol of California is Sacramento. Sacramento became the state's capital city in 1854, four years after California was admitted into the Union. There were three capitols previous to Sacramento. San Jose, Vallejo and Benicia.
California's government includes the Governor as well as 80 Assembly Members and 40 Senators. There are 58 counties in California containing 481 incorporated cities and towns. Basic provisions for the government of California counties are contained in the California Constitution and the California Government Code. The fundamental difference between cities and counties in California are that counties lack broad powers of self-government that cities have. Additionally legislative control over counties is more complete than it is over cities. There are two types of counties in California. General law counties which adhere to state law as to the number and duties of county elected officials. And Charter counties which have a limited degree of "home rule" authority that may provide for the election, compensation, terms, removal, and salary of the governing board.
Freedom of information in California is controlled by Constitutional, legislative, and judicial rules. Proposition 59, commonly known as the Sunshine Amendment added to the California constitution that the people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny. State law enforcement is provided by the California Highway Patrol which allows access to the statewide integrated traffic system reports as well as collision reports and statistics on drunk driving and fatalities. Individual county sheriffs offices provide such records as crime reports, inmate information and wanted persons. Public records such as birth, death and marriage certificates may be obtained from each counties recorder/clerk.
For information on how to obtain public records, forms and instructions you can access most agencies via their official websites. CaliforniaPublicR ecord.com provides a comprehensive directory of agencies available on line that offer access to public records. Reviewing a detailed index allows for a more extensive understanding of information and records available to you.