Chapter 9.10


9.10.010    Short title.

9.10.020    Authority and findings.

9.10.030    Definitions.

9.10.040    Alarm business and agent responsibilities.

9.10.050    Alarm system permit – Exceptions.

9.10.060    Obtaining and filing of permits – Required information.

9.10.070    Alarm permit duration and transfer.

9.10.080    Fees.

9.10.090    Permit to be kept on alarm system premises – Posting of permit.

9.10.100    Alarm requirements.

9.10.110    Duty to deactivate alarm after notice – Duty to respond and provide police access to premises – Penalty for failure to respond.

9.10.120    Suspension and revocation of permit – Grounds.

9.10.130    Suspension or revocation appeals.

9.10.140    Inspection of alarm devices and businesses.

9.10.150    Response to alarm – Determination of validity.

9.10.160    Standards and regulations.

9.10.170    Regulations separate from business tax ordinance.

9.10.180    Service charge assessment.

9.10.190    Prohibited acts.

9.10.200    Violation – Penalty.

9.10.210    Enforcement.

9.10.220    Confidentiality.

9.10.230    Severability.

    Prior legislation: Ords. 1342 and 1926.

9.10.010 Short title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Fremont false alarm ordinance.” (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11000.)

9.10.020 Authority and findings.

(a)    Authority. This chapter is enacted by the city council pursuant to Section 7 of Article XI of the Constitution of the State of California granting the power for a city to make and enforce within its limits all local, police, sanitary and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with the general law and Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 7592.8. This chapter is not enacted pursuant to the power to license or tax business for revenue purposes. Any fee or charge authorized by this chapter is for the sole purpose of defraying the cost and expense of investigation of applicants for permits, processing of applications, and issuance of permits.

(b)    Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to provide regulations applicable to burglary, intrusion, and robbery alarm systems, alarm businesses, alarm agents and alarm users as defined in this chapter.

(c)    Findings. The council of the city of Fremont finds all the following:

(1)    The majority of alarms to which the police department responds are false alarms and responses to false alarms result in the waste of valuable city resources which must be eliminated to the maximum extent possible.

(2)    Police department response to false alarms creates unnecessary hazards for police officers, residents and motorists in the city.

(3)    The intent of this chapter is to reduce the false alarms by establishing performance criteria for alarm systems.

(4)    The ordinance codified in this chapter is exempt from environmental review pursuant to Section 15061(b)(3) of the State CEQA Guidelines implementing the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970, as amended. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11005.)

9.10.030 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meaning given herein.

“Alarm agent” means any person employed by an alarm business whose duties include the altering, installing, maintaining, moving, repairing, replacing, selling, servicing, responding to or causing others to respond to an alarm device.

“Alarm business” means any business operated by a person for a profit which engages in the activity of altering, installing, leasing, maintaining, repairing, replacing, selling, servicing or responding to a burglar or robbery alarm system or which causes any of these activities to take place. “Alarm business” includes “alarm company operator” as defined in Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 7590.2.

“Alarm system” means any assembly of equipment and devices designed to signal the presence of a potential hazard relayed by an alarm answering service or any other audible or silent alarm device to which the police are expected to respond. In this chapter, the term “alarm system” shall include the terms “automatic robbery alarm systems,” “burglar alarm systems,” “robbery alarm systems,” “manual robbery alarm systems” and “intrusion alarms” as those terms are hereinafter defined. Fire alarm systems and alarm systems which monitor temperature, humidity or any other condition not directly related to the detection of an unauthorized intrusion into a premises or an attempted burglary or robbery at a premises are specifically excluded from the provisions of this chapter.

“Alarm user” means any person on whose premises an alarm system is maintained within the city, except for alarm systems on motor vehicles or proprietary systems. If, however, an alarm system on a motor vehicle is connected with an alarm system at a premises (other than a proprietary system), the person using such system is an alarm user. Also excluded from this definition and from the coverage of this chapter are persons who use alarm systems to alert or signal persons, within the premises in which the alarm system is located, of an attempted burglary, unauthorized intrusion or robbery attempt. If such a system, however, employs an audible signal emitting sounds or a flashing light or beacon designed to signal persons outside the premises, such system shall be within the definition of “alarm system” and shall be subject to this chapter.

“Automatic dialing system” means an alarm system which automatically sends over regular telephone lines, by electronic or optical impulse, radio waves or by direct connection or otherwise, a prerecorded voice, text or data message to 911 indicating the existence of the emergency situation that the alarm system is designed to detect.

“Burglary alarm system” means an alarm system signaling an entry or attempted entry into an area protected by the system.

“Chief of police” means the city of Fremont chief of police or his/her designee.

“City” means the city of Fremont.

“Commercial alarm” means an alarm installed on premises which is primarily used for one or more of the following:

(1)    Business providing sales, service or both;

(2)    Public agency or nonprofit entity or organization providing service to the general public or a significant segment thereof.

“Commercial alarm” does not include any alarm installed on premises primarily used for residential purposes.

“Emergency alarm system” means any device which is designed to alert, either directly or indirectly, personnel of the police department to any emergency situation.

“False alarm” means a nonemergency activation of an alarm system due to mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation or maintenance or the negligence of the owner, lessee or his/her employees or agents which results in a response by the Fremont police department. “False alarm” does not include alarm activations caused by tornadoes, earthquakes or other violent, uncontrollable acts of nature.

“Interconnect” means to connect an alarm system to a voice, text or data line, either directly or through any device that utilizes hard wire or radio transmissions, for the purpose of transmitting emergency message upon the activation of the alarm system. “Interconnect” includes connection to radio transmitters and other text and data carrying or transmission devices.

“Intrusion alarm system” means an alarm system signaling an entry or attempted entry into the area protected by the system.

“Local alarm system” means an audible or visual alarm system that can be heard or seen from the exterior of a structure within which the system is installed.

“Manual robbery alarm system” means an alarm system in which the signal transmission is initiated by the direct action of the person attacked or by an observer of the attack.

“One-year period” means the period of time commencing upon the occurrence of an initial false alarm, and terminating one year following the initial false alarm.

“Police” or “police department” means the Fremont police department.

“Police chief” means the chief of police of the Fremont police department or his/her designated representative.

“Premises” means any privately owned real property or structures located within the city (excluding land or structures owned, occupied by, rented or leased to the federal, state, or local government entities) and property owned by the city of Fremont, the county of Alameda and the United States of America which is rented, leased or otherwise used by a private entity or nonprofit organization.

“Proprietary system” means an alarm system sounding and/or recording alarm and supervisory signals at a control center located within the protected premises, and under the supervision of the proprietor of the protected premises. If a proprietary system includes a signal line connected directly or by means of an automatic dialing device to a police communications center, a central station, modified central station or answering service, it thereby becomes an “alarm system” as defined herein.

“Proprietor alarm” means an alarm which is not serviced by an alarm business.

“Remote signaling system” means an alarm signaling system which, when activated by an alarm device, transmits a signal from an alarm signaling device to a central location, other than the communications center, where appropriate action is taken to investigate and respond to the signal.

“Responsible party” means any person, or their agent, representative or designee, who owns, leases, or is lawfully in charge of the premises on which an alarm system is installed or maintained, or who owns, leases or uses an alarm system on premises located within the city.

“Revocation of permit” means an order by the chief of police revoking an alarm system permit and forbidding use of an alarm system until proof of correction is provided following two or more suspensions of an alarm permit over a 12-month period.

“Robbery alarm system” means an alarm system signaling a robbery, attempted robbery, or the commission of a crime involving potential death or serious injury at a specific particular location.

“Service charge” means the amount prescribed by the city council which represents the costs incurred by the city in providing extraordinary alarm system service as described in Section 9.10.180.

“Shall” is always mandatory and not directory.

“Subscriber” means a person who buys and/or leases or otherwise obtains an alarm signaling system and thereafter contracts with or hires an alarm business to monitor and/or service the alarm device.

“Suspension of permit” means:

(1)    An action taken by the chief of police to suspend an alarm system permit following demand for proof of correction of the alarm system; or

(2)    An alarm management procedure to assure correction of the cause(s) of false alarms from a permitted alarm system. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98; Ord. 2386 § 1, 6-27-00. 1990 Code § 3-11010.)

9.10.040 Alarm business and agent responsibilities.

(a)    No person shall maintain an alarm business in the city of Fremont without having first obtained a business tax license from the city of Fremont and satisfying all alarm business registration requirements of the state and registration of the name shown on the state issued identification card with the chief of police. Any person acting as an alarm agent or responding alarm agent shall carry the registration card issued by the state while engaged in alarm agent activities and shall display such registration card to a representative of the police department upon request.

(b)    Any person or business who leases, maintains, sells, or installs any alarm system or who causes such systems to be leased, maintained, sold or installed shall inform all responsible persons about: the operational, remedy and penalty provisions contained in Sections 9.10.050, 9.10.060, 9.10.070, 9.10.090, 9.10.100, 9.10.110, 9.10.140, 9.10.150, 9.10.180, 9.10.200, and 9.10.210; the false alarm suspension provisions contained in Sections 9.10.120 and 9.10.130; and the prohibition provisions contained in Section 9.10.190.

(1)    Automatic dial telephone devices are prohibited and the police department will not respond to signals from such devices.

(2)    The chief of police may suspend a permittee whose alarm system has experienced four false alarms in a 180-day period or more than five false alarm responses within a 12-month period which did not require police services for any purpose other than the deactivation of the alarm.

(3)    No person shall operate or use an alarm system which causes a request for service to be placed with the police department prior to the verification of the need for such service by either physical inspection of the scene of activation, remote electronic inspection of the scene, or an attempt to verify the need for service by telephonic means.

(4)    The operational requirements, the remedies and penalty provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11015.)

9.10.050 Alarm system permit – Exceptions.

(a)    No person shall possess or use an alarm system without first applying for and receiving an alarm permit as required by this chapter.

(b)    In the event a residential alarm user is assessed a civil penalty as provided in Section 9.10.200 for failure to have a permit as required by this chapter, the permit fee shall be satisfied from the civil penalty amount paid by the residential alarm user. The permit for the alarm shall be issued to the residential alarm user upon the alarm user’s submission of a completed application permit form.

(c)    No alarm permit shall be required for any of the following:

(1)    Persons engaged solely in the manufacture, repair or sale of alarm systems or components from a fixed location who do not personally or through an agent install, maintain, service, inspect or plan the alarm system for any location.

(2)    Alarm systems which do not directly alert law enforcement agencies or others outside the protected buildings, structure or facility, but are designed solely to alert security personnel or others directly connected with or employed by the owner or operator of the protected building, structure or facility.

(3)    Municipal, county, state or federal government agencies or special districts. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11020.)

9.10.060 Obtaining and filing of permits – Required information.

(a)    Permits required by this chapter shall be obtained from and filed with the police department which shall prescribe the permit form. Permits for alarm systems installed by an alarm company may be issued by an agent of the company using the prescribed form and forwarding a copy to the police department with payment of required fees.

(b)    The permit must contain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of three persons who will render service and repairs to a malfunctioning alarm system and authorize access to the interior and exterior of the premises for a security check at any time of the day or night.

(c)    Alarm companies, when servicing or repairing preexisting alarms which have not been issued a permit, shall issue the responsible party an alarm permit as provided for in subsection (a) of this section or provide the responsible party with an application form for an alarm permit and advise the responsible party of the requirements of this chapter as per Section 9.10.040(b). (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11025.)

9.10.070 Alarm permit duration and transfer.

An alarm permit may be issued at any time, but all alarm permits expire on the last day of the twenty-fourth month following issuance of the permit. Alarm permits shall not be transferable from one person to another, from one location to another and such permits may not be transferred with the land or structure. Any such transfer shall be void. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11030.)

9.10.080 Fees.

The city council may establish by resolution fees for the following:

(a)    Applications for all permits required by this chapter.

(b)    Service responses to false alarms pursuant to Section 9.10.140.

(c)    Inspection of alarm systems following suspension or revocation of a permit. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11035.)

9.10.090 Permit to be kept on alarm system premises – Posting of permit.

(a)    The permits issued pursuant to this chapter shall be kept on the premises where the alarm system is located. The police department may issue an appropriate identification tag and establish requirements for its posting.

(b)    No person shall use an alarm system without posting the alarm system permit number at the front entrance of the premises served by the alarm system. Numbers shall be clearly visible and readable from the exterior of the premises. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11040.)

9.10.100 Alarm requirements.

(a)    No audible alarm shall be installed, maintained or activated which emits the sound of a siren similar to those utilized on emergency vehicles or for air raid, disaster or other emergency warnings.

(b)    Audible alarm systems which can be heard outside the building, structure or facility of the alarm user shall be equipped with a sound emission cutoff feature, which will stop the emission of sound 15 minutes or less after the alarm is activated. Alarm systems without properly functioning sound emission cutoff features will be designated as a nuisance and be subject to abatement by the police department. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98; Ord. 2386 § 2, 6-27-00. 1990 Code § 3-11045.)

9.10.110 Duty to deactivate alarm after notice – Duty to respond and provide police access to premises – Penalty for failure to respond.

(a)    The responsible party shall deactivate any alarm within 35 minutes after police department notification to the responsible party that such alarm is activated and is sounding.

(b)    It shall be unlawful for the responsible party to cause, permit, suffer or allow such system to sound for a period in excess of 35 minutes after notification or efforts of notification have been made.

(c)    The responsible party shall proceed to the premises within 35 minutes after notice or efforts of notification and render any assistance or necessary service, including, but not limited to, providing access to the property for a search by the police department. Failure of the responsible party to respond to the premises may result in a citation. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11047.)

9.10.120 Suspension and revocation of permit – Grounds.

(a)    The chief of police may suspend any permittee whose alarm system has experienced four false alarms in a 180-day period or five false alarms within a 12-month period.

(b)    Failure of the police department to locate any evidence of intrusion or other need or cause for activating an alarm system shall result in the presumption of a false alarm. If within 10 days of notification the chief of police receives satisfactory evidence from the permittee that the alarm was excusable because of an unauthorized entry, attempted unauthorized entry, or other unlawful activity at the alarm site, the permittee’s record will be amended to indicate a valid or excusable alarm.

(c)    The chief of police shall notify the permittee in writing that the alarm system permit has been suspended. The permittee may submit the proper fees for the reissuance of the permit and satisfactory written evidence indicating the cause of the false alarm has been determined and corrected. A party subject to a suspension who fails after 30 days (beginning the date of suspension) to determine and correct the alarm problem, shall have all police responses immediately terminated. Alarm responses will be reinstated when satisfactory evidence of correction is provided to the chief of police.

(d)    More than two suspensions in any year shall be the basis for revocation of the permit and police department nonresponse to the alarm. Petition may be made to reinstate the alarm permit and police response to the alarm upon compliance with the requirements indicated in the police chief’s letter of alarm permit revocation.

(e)    Any alarm user whose alarm permit has been suspended or revoked shall immediately discontinue the use of their alarm system until such time as the suspension is rescinded or the alarm permit is reissued.

(f)    It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly activate an alarm system after the permit has been suspended or revoked. Unlawful activation of an alarm system will result in the issuance of a citation. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98; Ord. 2386 § 3, 6-27-00. 1990 Code § 3-11050.)

9.10.130 Suspension or revocation appeals.

The decision of the chief of police to suspend or revoke a permit may be appealed to the chief of police, in writing, within 10 days of written notice. A hearing will then be scheduled to be held before a hearing officer appointed by the city manager concerning the issues raised in the appeal. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11055.)

9.10.140 Inspection of alarm devices and businesses.

(a)    For the purposes of enforcing this chapter, the police chief shall have the authority at reasonable times and upon reasonable oral notice to enter any commercial premises in the city in or upon which alarm systems or alarm businesses subject to this chapter are located, to inspect the installation and/or operation of such alarm systems or alarm businesses. If such entry is refused, the police chief shall have recourse to every remedy provided by law to secure entry.

(b)    For the purposes of enforcing this chapter, the police chief shall have authority to inspect residential dwellings which have alarm systems after he/she has given written notice to the owner of such residence that he/she wishes to inspect the alarm system. If such entry is refused, the police chief shall have recourse to every remedy provided by law to secure entry. The written notice shall be given at least 48 hours prior to the inspection.

(c)    If such inspection reveals any violation of the provisions of this chapter, a written report detailing such violation shall be promptly sent to the owner, lessee or other person responsible for the violation. Such report shall require the correction within 30 days of the mailing of the notice of violation. The alarm user or alarm business shall be granted a reasonable extension of time to correct such violation upon good cause shown.

(d)    It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and willfully reveal any business information obtained during said inspection other than for official police business or for the administration of this chapter and law enforcement purposes. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98; amended during 2012 reformat. 1990 Code § 3-11060.)

9.10.150 Response to alarm – Determination of validity.

(a)    Police Response. Whenever an alarm is activated in the city and the police department responds, a police officer on the scene of an activated alarm system shall inspect the area and shall determine whether the police response was in fact necessary as indicated by the alarm system or whether the alarm was a false alarm.

(b)    Notification. If the officer on the premises of an activated alarm system determines the alarm to be false, the officer shall make a report of the false alarm. The alarm user shall be notified of each false alarm determination.

(c)    Inspection. The chief of police shall have the right to inspect any alarm system on the premises to which a response has been made at any reasonable time thereafter to determine whether it is being used in conformity with the terms of this chapter. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11065.)

9.10.160 Standards and regulations.

The chief of police may prescribe minimum standards and regulations for alarm systems installed within the city. All devices shall meet or exceed such standards and regulations before permits may be issued pursuant to this chapter. The police chief may require inspection and approval of all alarm systems installed within the city. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11070.)

9.10.170 Regulations separate from business tax ordinance.

Payment of a business tax pursuant to Chapter 5.05 shall not relieve any person of the obligations created by this chapter. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11075.)

9.10.180 Service charge assessment.

(a)    A service charge shall be billed to and be paid by permittee for each response made by the department in excess of three responses in any 120-day period which did not require police service other than the deactivation of the alarm system.

(b)    A service charge will be billed to and paid by nonpermittee for each response made by the department in excess of one response during any time period which did not require police service other than the deactivation of the alarm.

(c)    A service charge shall be billed for the reinstatement of alarm user permits which have been suspended or revoked pursuant to Section 9.10.120.

(d)    Service charges shall be billed and paid for system inspections required to confirm corrections have been made as required by the notice of suspension or revocation pursuant to Section 9.10.120.

(e)    The amount of the service charge shall be set by the city council in the published fee schedule based upon the city cost of the service provided. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11080.)

9.10.190 Prohibited acts.

(a)    No person shall operate or use a robbery alarm system for any other purpose other than reporting robberies or other crimes involving potential serious bodily injury or death.

(b)    No person shall operate or use a burglary alarm system for any purpose other than detecting and reporting an unauthorized entry or an attempted unauthorized entry upon the premises protected by such system.

(c)    No person shall operate or use an alarm system that causes more than two requests for services in any continuous 12-month period without prior verification of the need for the service. “Verification of need for the service” means an effort to ascertain the existence of an unauthorized entry justifying a police service response. Verification may be accomplished by physical inspection of the alarm location, remote electronic inspection, or telephonic verification.

(d)    No person shall install or operate any alarm system using automatic dial telephone devices as described in Section 9.10.030. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11085.)

9.10.200 Violation – Penalty.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to the issuance of a citation and imposition of civil penalties as established by the city council. Responsible parties shall be subject to administrative citations in accordance with Section 1.20.010 and subject to being billed for services for responses to excessive false alarms. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11090.)

9.10.210 Enforcement.

(a)    Except as provided in Section 9.10.050(b) regarding residential alarm users, the citation of any person for violation of the provisions of this chapter or for failing to secure a permit as required by this chapter shall not relieve the person from paying the permit fee due and unpaid at the time of the citation nor shall payment of any permit fee prevent issuance and prosecution of civil penalties for any violation of this chapter including fees for service for false alarm responses by the police department.

(b)    All remedies shall be cumulative and the use of one or more remedies by the city shall not bar the use of any other remedy for the violation of the provisions of this chapter.

(c)    The amount of any permit fee, alarm response fee, application fee, inspection fee or other service fee is a debt to the city of Fremont. All such fees and charges shall be deemed delinquent 30 days after they are due and payable. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11095.)

9.10.220 Confidentiality.

The information furnished and secured pursuant to this section shall be confidential in character and shall not be subject to public inspection and shall be kept so that the contents thereof shall not be known except to persons charged with the administration of this chapter. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11100.)

9.10.230 Severability.

If any article, section, subsection, phrase, clause, sentence, or word in this chapter shall for any reason be held invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, it shall not nullify the remainder of this chapter but shall be confined to the article, section, subsection, subdivision, clause, sentence or word so held invalid or unconstitutional. (Ord. 2277 § 1, 2-10-98. 1990 Code § 3-11105.)