An Alameda County fee of $3.50 per page for copies of public records such as birth certificates and real estate deeds was upheld by a state appeals court in San Francisco on Monday.
A three-judge Court of Appeal panel said that under state law, the county's Board of Supervisors is permitted to consider both direct and indirect costs to the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder's Office when it adopted the fee in 2010.
A study conducted by the county before setting the fee concluded the direct and indirect cost of paying for staff, materials and facilities to copy documents amounted to $4.08 per page. It also said the fee was within the range of those charged by neighboring counties.
The appeals court ruled in a lawsuit filed in Superior Court in 2014 by nonprofit organization California Public Records Research Inc. The panel overturned a 2017 decision by a trial judge who said the fee included too many indirect costs.
Public records maintained by the Clerk-Recorder's Office include documents affecting real estate, business records, and marriage, birth and death certificates.
Justice Barbara Jones wrote for the court, "The county did not act arbitrarily, capriciously, or otherwise abuse its discretion when it determined that charging $3.50 per page was necessary to recover the direct and indirect costs of making copies."