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Frequently Asked Questions - Code Compliance

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Code Compliance - FAQs

What if I am not sure that what I see is a violation?

  • Please call it in anyway to (805) 583-6723 during business hours and (805) 583-6373 after business hours. Your complaint will be taken and referred to an inspector who will determine if there is a violation.

What happens when I call in a complaint?

  • A Code Compliance Inspector conducts an investigation. If a violation is found to be valid, a Notice of Violation is issued to the owner and/or tenant, and a specific time for compliance is given. Subsequent follow-up inspections will be conducted until compliance is obtained.

Do I have to give you my name and address?

  • No. However, you may leave your name and number if you wish to be contacted regarding the complaint.  All complaints remain anonymous even if a name and number is provided.

How can I file a complaint in the evenings or on weekends?

  • The Building and Safety Division has a 24-hour inspection request and complaint phone line that you can call to report your concerns at (805) 583-6373; or
  • You may come into the Building & Safety Division during regular business hours, and ask any questions you may have about Code violations; or
  • You may also speak to your neighborhood’s building inspector or a Supervisor by calling (805) 583-6723 between 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. or 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you wish to remain anonymous, we recommend speaking directly to a staff person.

I have a garage that I don't use for parking. Can I use it for a playroom or bedroom?

  • No. Garages, storage rooms, and similar rooms cannot be used as living, sleeping, or recreation rooms, even if only for short period, without approvals from the City's Planning and Building & Safety Divisions in the Environmental Services Department.

I want to build a bathroom inside my garage so that my children can use it instead of coming in the house all the time. Do I need a permit?

  • Yes. Because the required covered parking for the property may be affected, a Building Permit and a Zoning Clearance from the Planning Division will be required to ensure the minimum parking requirements are maintained. Each single-family dwelling is required to have the equivalent of a two-car garage (20' x20' interior dimension) to meet the parking requirements.

I want to build a small room to store gardening tools and my trash cans. Do I need a permit?

  • You do not need a permit to build a detached structure that is 120 square feet or less (approximately 10' by 12') if it is a minimum of 6 feet away from other structures, and 3 feet from the side and rear property lines.  However, the structure must still comply with Planning Division requirements for accessory structures.

What does not require a permit?

  • One story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 sq. ft. (but the City Planning Division has requirements for accessory structures)
  • Fences not exceeding 42” in the front yard and 6' feet in the side and rear yards (but the City Planning Division has height and placement regulations regarding fencing).
  • Retaining walls not over four feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impound Class I, II, or III-a liquids.
  • Platforms, walks, driveways not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below (but the City Planning Division has requirements for front-yard paving).
  • Painting, papering, and similar finish work.

What are some of the common items that require a permit?

  • Changing your windows
  • Installation of lawn sprinklers
  • Remodeling kitchen or bathroom
  • Re-roofing of more than 10 sq. ft.
  • Installation of window security bars
  • Stucco work, sandblasting
  • Installation of a new water heater or replacement of an old one
  • Relocation of an existing water heater
  • Changing and/or installation of fixtures such as toilets, lavatories, bathtubs, dishwashers
  • Installation of through the wall air conditioners
  • Installation of forced air units
  • Alteration of electrical, plumbing, or mechanical fixtures
  • Masonry wall fencing over 6’ in height
  • Room additions, patios, and spas
  • Installation and/or replacement of water lines

Am I responsible for pre-existing problems on a property I purchase?

  • Yes. The current property owner is responsible for all structure construction and use.

What happens after I receive a notice from the City to correct Code violations?

  • The violator and/or property owner may have up to 30 days to correct the violation or to appeal the notice. Dangerous situations must be corrected immediately.

Why should I be responsible for upkeep at my property? My tenant is responsible for the problems.

  • Property owners are ultimately responsible for all repairs and upkeep of their properties.

Where can I get more information on specific Code Requirements?

  • You can obtain more information regarding any proposed project at the Building and Safety Counter, or call (805) 583-6723.

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