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Code Enforcement

Building inspector taking pictures of an old abandoned house

Code Enforcement works in partnership with citizens to ensure, improve and maintain safe and desirable San Diego neighborhoods. If you believe that there is a violation near your home or business, you can:

1. Contact the Responsible Person

Most people want to be good neighbors and are cooperative once an issue is brought to their attention. The National Conflict Resolution Center at 619-238-2400 can help you establish effective dialog with the person responsible for the problem.

2. Request an Investigation

Call 619-236-5500

You will be asked if you have contacted the responsible party.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I expect Code Enforcement to respond to my report?

When a case is opened, it is given a priority level and assigned to staff within one business day. Research is conducted to determine existing approvals and conditions, usually followed by an inspection with the responsible party.

  • Priority 1 casesInspected within one (1) business day
    These cases pose imminent health and safety hazards and have the highest potential to cause significant harm in the community.

    Examples:

    • Dangerous/unstable structures
    • Inadequate barriers for swimming pools/spas
    • Leaking sewage
    • Live, exposed electrical wires
    • Uninhabitable living conditions
  • Priority 2 casesInspected within five (5) business days
    These cases have significant code violations.

    Examples:

    • Abandoned properties
    • Disturbance of environmental resources
    • Historic sites
    • Substandard housing conditions
    • Unpermitted grading
  • Priority 3 casesInspected within twenty (20) business days
    These cases involve other code violations and/or conditions adversely impacting quality of life.

    Examples:

    • Accessory structures
    • Adult entertainment
    • Billboards
    • Building, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical violations
    • Disabled access
    • Discretionary permit violations
    • Off-street parking violations
    • Fence/wall violations
    • Food trucks
    • Garages illegally converted to living space
    • Garages used for storage
    • Newsracks
    • Outdoor merchandise displays
    • Recycling facilities
    • Required landscaping
    • Residential care facilities
    • Setback violations
    • Sidewalk cafes
    • Storage
    • Unpermitted businesses/uses
    • Unpermitted construction
    • Unpermitted demolition
    • Unpermitted dwelling units
    • Vehicle repair in residential areas
  • Alternative Compliance
    When a complaint about one of the following issues is received, an Alternative Compliance case is opened:

    • Barking dogs
    • Garage sales
    • Lighting
    • Noise
      • Equipment
      • Leaf blower
    • Parking in the front yard
    • Roosters
    • Signs
      • Portable
      • Public right-of-way*
    • Unpermitted street trees

    * For signs in the public right-of-way, the responsible party’s name or company name and address are required to open an investigation.

    After an initial review of the report, staff will send letters to the complainant and alleged violator conveying details of the complaint and guidance for resolution. The letters are valid for 12 months from the date of record on them.

    These matters are typically best addressed by discussing them with neighbors, and the Alternative Compliance letter emphasizes that approach. If needed, mediation can help resolve questions between neighbors. Community members interested in mediation can contact the National Conflict Resolution Center at 619-238-2400.

What does Code Enforcement do when a violation is found?

If an inspection reveals code violations, staff will determine the appropriate remedy. This may include the issuance of a citation or notice. In most cases, the person responsible for a violation is given an opportunity to voluntarily comply and correct the situation.

Once the deadline in the notice has expired, the owner or responsible person may be subject to one or more of the actions below.

  • Abatement - The City may direct a third party to demolish, secure or remove junk and debris. The City will recover costs.
  • Civil Penalties - May be assessed up to a daily maximum amount of $10,000 and up to a total maximum amount of $400,000.
  • Judicial Remedies - The City Attorney can file criminal or civil cases against the responsible party or parties.

What does Code Enforcement check during property inspections?

In general, assigned staff inspects the development, use and condition of a property for compliance with applicable codes and regulations.

Can Code Enforcement help with barking dogs?

Code Enforcement does not respond to barking dogs in person. However, an Alternative Compliance Letter can be sent in response to a complaint.

When a barking dog complaint is received, Code Enforcement staff will open an Alternative Compliance case. After an initial review, staff will send letters to the complainant and alleged violator conveying details of the complaint and guidance for resolution. The letters are valid for 12 months from the date of record on them.

These matters are typically best addressed by discussing them with neighbors, and the Alternative Compliance letter emphasizes that approach. If needed, mediation can help resolve questions between neighbors. Community members interested in mediation can contact the National Conflict Resolution Center at 619-238-2400.

What if I wish to make an anonymous complaint?

Code Enforcement will not accept anonymous requests for investigation. Please note that complainant information is kept confidential; however, in rare instances, the City may be required to reveal this information in a judicial proceeding.