Posted on Oct 19, 1999 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 99-05
October 19, 1999
Reconsideration of OIP Opinion Letter No. 90-20

The OIP was asked to revisit the advice set forth in the OIP Opinion Letter Number 90-20. The OIP Opinion Letter Number 90-20 opined that section 92F-12(a)(11), Hawaii Revised Statutes, which mandates disclosure of “building permit information,” includes information submitted to a government agency both before and after the issuance of a building permit. Agencies cannot condition disclosure of building permit information on prior approval of the homeowner or of the architect who drafted the building plans.

The OIP also opined that “access” under the UIPA includes inspection and copying, and that agencies must permit both upon request. Finally, because some building plans have been copyrighted, we advised that agencies contact their Deputy Attorney General or Deputy Corporation Counsel when they receive requests for copyrighted information, because the OIP does not have jurisdiction to advise on copyright issues.

Since the issuance of that opinion, government agencies have received complaints about disclosure of certain building permit information, such as building plans. Some individuals feel that building plans can be used to obtain access to a home to commit a crime, or can be used to build an identical home. We reaffirmed our prior opinion, noting that there has been no change in the UIPA and no Hawaii case law that would affect our prior opinion.

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