The SDPD is not responsible for dealing with all of the problems and incidents that affect public health, safety, and welfare, although in many cases it works with other agencies in addressing them. Problems involving graffiti, litter, animals, unsafe street conditions, certain municipal code violations, neighborhood nuisances, and abandoned shopping carts should be reported to the agencies that have the primary responsibility. All of these reports are completely confidential so you should not be afraid to give your name, address, and phone number.
Call the City of San Diego's Graffiti Control Hotline at (619) 525-8522 to report graffiti on private or public property. Your report will be verified and the party (property owner) responsible for removing the graffiti will be notified. Victims can obtain free recycled paint and supplies to remove graffiti by calling the City Paint Bank Operations at (619) 527-5419. The faster graffiti is painted out the less likely it is to return. If it is not removed the City will use the enforcement remedies and abatement procedures in Secs. 54.0401 et seq of the San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC) to bring the property into compliance. Call 911 if the graffiti vandalism is in progress. Give the dispatcher the location and a good description of the vandals and their vehicles. Do not confront them because they often carry weapons and have lookouts you may not see.
Call the City of San Diego's Environmental Services Department at (858) 694-7000 regarding litter on private or public property. Call City Park and Recreation at (619) 685-1350 regarding litter on property in a Landscape Maintenance Assessment district.
Call the County Department of Animal Control 24-hour emergency number, (619) 236-2341, to report incidents involving animals that threaten public health and safety. Call the City Environmental Services Department at (858) 694-7000 for the removal of dead animals in public right-of-ways. The following numbers can be used for other animal control services:
- Spaying or neutering, lost and found, operator assistance, etc. (619) 236-4250
- Licensing and rabies vaccinations (619) 236-4250
- Adoptions (619) 236-4250
- Noise abatement (619) 236-5500
SDMC Sec. 59.5.0502(c)(1) makes it unlawful to keep an animal which by any frequent or long-continued noise annoys or discomforts a reasonable person of normal sensitivities in the vicinity. Sec. 59.5.0502(c)(2) states that animal noise that disturbs residents in two separate adjacent residences or three residents in three separate nearby residences will be prima facie evidence of a violation. If you and one or two neighbors are willing to sign complaints you should call the City Code Enforcement Division at (619) 236-5500. If not, you could try mediation or a civil action as suggested below under neighborhood nuisances. But you will still need to prove the nuisance, which is best done with several witnesses.
Unsafe Street Conditions
Conditions that should be reported include: holes and cracks in surfaces and curbs; missing, damaged, or obscured signs; inoperative lights and signals; hazardous debris; needs for new safety measures; and trees that need trimming.
- Holes and Cracks in Surfaces and Curbs. Call City Street Division at (619) 527-7500 to report potholes, cracks, and other problems with street surfaces, sidewalks, and curbs.
- Missing, Damaged, or Obscured Signs. Call (619) 527-7500 to report these problems.
- Inoperative Lights and Signals. Call (619) 527-7500 to report inoperative street lights and traffic signals.
- Hazardous Debris. Call the City Environmental Services Department at (858) 694-7000 to report hazardous debris on streets. Call the California Highway Patrol at (858) 637-3800 to report small objects on freeways that are unlikely to cause an accident or injure a motorist. Call 911 if the object could endanger motorists.
- Needs for New Safety Measures. Call City Transportation Engineering at (619) 533-3126 to suggest new crosswalks, curb markings, traffic signals, signs, speed bumps, additional street lights, obstruction removal, etc.
- Trees. Call City Street Division at (619) 527-7500 to report city-owned trees that need trimming.
Call the City Code Enforcement Division's Citizen Complaint Intake Line at (619) 236-5500 regarding violations of the City's housing, building, sign, zoning, vehicle parking, weed abatement, and noise regulations. Some common violations that should be reported include vehicles parked in front yards, excessive weeds on private property, dilapidated or unsafe structures or fences, unsecured vacant structures, uninhabitable rental housing, building or remodeling without permits, illegally posted signs, operating a business from a home, other illegal uses of residential property, and garages converted to living spaces.
Nuisances can include an unsightly property, excessive noise, gang activity, prostitution, drug activity, trespassing, CC&R violations, etc. The SDPD will assist neighbors wishing to take civil action against problem property owners to abate these and other nuisances. The basis for the civil action is a California law that makes property owners responsible for using their property in an ordinary and reasonable manner that is conducive to the peace and harmony of the neighborhood and does not interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property by others. Property owners violate the law by allowing a nuisance to exist on their property whether they themselves live there or not. Once they become aware of the nuisance they become responsible for abating it.
The following steps should be taken to keep disputes with neighbors from becoming violent.
- Get to know your neighbor. Introduce yourself and talk about general issues of interest. A few weeks later raise your complaint.
- Keep a log of the nuisance. Write down the date, time, duration, and nature and effects of the nuisance.
- Discuss the nuisance with your neighbor and propose a solution to the problem. Explain your situation in a calm, polite way and outline the reasons for your concerns.
- Talk to your other neighbors. If the nuisance is affecting them a joint appeal for a solution should be made.
- Try mediation. It’s less formal and may be less expensive than going to court. You can call the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) at (619) 238-2400 or go to its website at www.ncrconline.com to open a case. A case coordinator will call you within 24 hours to gather information about your case. The NCRC mediates disputes free of charge through funding by the County of San Diego.
If you need assistance in dealing with a nuisance you can send an email describing the problem to Fred Zuckerman at [email protected]. He will work with you and guide you through a process to abate the nuisance. The process involves the following steps: collection of evidence, documentation of the nuisance effects, notification and negotiation with the property owner, demand that the nuisance be stopped, etc. If the property owner fails to abate the nuisance you and other neighbors affected by the nuisance can file a suit in small claims court where you describe the nuisance and your efforts to resolve it. In court, the judge has the power to order the property owner to abate the nuisance and/or pay monetary damages. There is no charge for the assistance. Court costs will usually be around $100.
Abandoned Shopping Carts
Members of neighborhood and business watch groups, business improvement districts, and other community groups who are concerned about this problem should do the following when they see an abandoned cart:
- If the cart has a phone number on it for retrieval purposes, call that number and report the location of the cart. The number may be that of the store or that of the California Shopping Cart Retrieval Corporation (CSCRC), which has contracts with some stores to retrieve and return their carts. Its number is (800) 252-4613.
- If the cart has a store name on it but no phone number, look up the number of the nearest store and call it to report the location of the cart or call the City Environmental Services Code Enforcement Section at (858) 694-7000 to report its location. It will investigate the complaint and deal with the cart in the appropriate manner.
- If the cart has neither a store name or phone number, which is rare, call the City Environmental Services Code Enforcement Section to report its location.