Tempe Responds to GIS Data Request

I got a response back from the City of Tempe.

Hello Mr. Fee,

Here’s some information that I hope assists with your specific request and also clarifies the city’s policy and state law with regard to production of this information. Tempe’s policy is guided by state law (available at this link) which allows for the purpose of a commercial request to be asked.


You mentioned that your request is for a presentation to a Tempe elementary school, which sounds non-commercial. Please contact Wendy Springborn in our Engineering Division (480-350-8250) in order to discuss exactly what you’d like to request. The city does not charge for non-commercial requests, except for the production of CDs to deliver the records. Some records might be deliverable via an emailed PDF, but that depends on whether the requester wants to be able to manipulate the record. If they do, that cannot be delivered via PDF because of the limitations of that format. Wendy is ready to assist with your request if you’ll let her know what you need.


Tempe bases its commercial rates in part on a fair approximation of market value. As described in the state law above, municipalities and other entities are able to ask the purpose of commercial requests and to deny improper requests upon the approval of the governor. The statute also establishes the ability to seek damages if records obtained for a non-commercial purpose are then used for a commercial purpose. You noted a few cities’ elected representatives have chosen to make all of this information searchable online; that would be a policy decision rather than staff action. It seems that some of your concerns with the city’s GIS records policy are grounded in the state law requirements rather than independent city policies.

Tempe places a high priority on transparency and customer service. We make every effort to fulfill records requests of all types across the many city functions and departments. Please let me know if I can assist in answering any other questions.


Nikki Ripley City of Tempe Communication and Media Relations Director

So there you go, at least they are going to let you have it for personal use. Good, at a minimum that is good news. I’ll be making my request ASAP. The part that causes me to pause is this, “Tempe bases its commercial rates in part on a fair approximation of market value”. I couldn’t disagree more with this statement and it is nuts that they think that this data is worth $100,000. Nothing in the state law says Tempe should charge $100,000 for their data. Fair market value for public data shouldn’t be 6 figures. This is why people don’t go to the source to get data but third party providers who don’t have the accuracy of Tempe’s data. I’m disappointed in this response so it shows how much more work we have with local governments.

Update: I submitted a public records request, so we’ll see how this goes.

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