While state law requires that that cities retain all public records for at least two years, some cities are moving away from that standard and setting their own policies.

In San Leandro, the city is studying a new policy that would purge employee emails from the system every 120 days. This sort of short-term records keeping has open government advocates concerned.

The city says that its systems cannot support storing every email sent for years, and this is needed to maintain services without increased costs. And San Leandro isn’t alone in either operating or considering shorter policies. Places like Hayward only keep emails for 60 days, Fremont gets rid of its employee emails every 30.

However, the question remains as to what impact this could have down the road? How many projects are first introduced in January only to be resolved in September, or even the next year? Under this new policy, this would erase the start of the conversation before its conclusion could even be considered.

So the question is: How long is long enough?

From the San Leandro Patch:

Are city email messages public documents? That depends, apparently, on whom you ask.

The City of San Leandro is studying a new policy that would allow all emails to be automatically purged from the inboxes of city employees every 120 days.

Some city officials say the policy would put San Leandro in sync with other municipalities that have similar rules and would help unclog the city’s computer server.

Read the full article here.