Chapter 15.24


15.24.010    Title of provisions.

15.24.020    Findings.

15.24.030    Definitions.

15.24.040    Administration and enforcement.

15.24.050    Unlawful materials, conditions and activities.

15.24.060    Maintaining public nuisances prohibited.

15.24.070    Abatement of unlawful conditions—Notice.

15.24.080    Abatement work—Extension of time.

15.24.090    Abatement work—Appeal of notice.

15.24.100    Performance of abatement—City authority.

15.24.110    Entering property for abatement work.

15.24.120    Dangerous nuisance—Immediate abatement—Notice and costs.

15.24.130    Administrative and abatement costs.

15.24.140    Costs of abatement—Record keeping.

15.24.150    Costs of abatement—Assessment—Notice protests.

15.24.160    Proposed assessment hearing.

15.24.170    Confirmed assessment—Notice of lien.

15.24.180    Confirmed assessment—Collection.

15.24.190    Remedies of private parties.

15.24.200    Limitations of filing judicial action.

15.24.210    Alternatives.

15.24.220    Enforcement authority.

15.24.230    Violation—Penalty.

15.24.240    Violation—Abatement.

15.24.010 Title of provisions.

This chapter shall be known as the "City of San Carlos Property Maintenance Ordinance." (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.020 Findings.

The Council finds and determines as follows:

A.    The City has a history and reputation for well-kept properties and the property values and the general welfare of the community are founded, in part, upon the appearance and maintenance of private properties;

B.    Owners and occupants of some properties within the City have permitted visual blight, including but not exclusive of abandoned, deteriorated and infested buildings, the accumulation of overgrown, rank and noxious vegetation visible to the public, the accumulation of broken-down or discarded personal property in front yards, and the strewing of debris and garbage cans on yards visible from the street;

C.    The existence of such conditions as described in this chapter is injurious and inimical to the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City and contributes substantially and increasingly to the deterioration of neighborhoods, and the commercial and industrial areas;

D.    Abatement of these conditions is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City because maximum use and enjoyment of properties closely proximate to one another depends upon maintenance of those properties at or above a minimum standard of sightliness. The beneficial effects of maintaining a minimum standard of sightliness for property in the City include, but are not limited to, appreciation of property values, physical improvement of residential and commercial areas, attraction of investors of capital to residential and commercial zones, increase in commercial trade and increase in the tax base of the City;

E.    The abatement of such conditions will improve the general welfare, health and safety and image of the City;

F.    The abatement procedures set forth in this chapter are reasonable and afford due process to all affected persons;

G.    The uses and abuses of property, as described in this chapter, reasonably relate to the proper exercise of police power to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the public. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.030 Definitions.

The following words and phrases, whenever used in this chapter, shall be construed as defined in this section, unless from the context a different meaning is specifically defined and more particularly directed to the use of such words or phrases:

"Abatement costs and administrative expenses" means and includes, but is not limited to, the actual expenses and costs of the City in preparing notices, specifications and contracts; in conducting inspections; for legal fees; and for other related costs incurred in enforcing the provisions of this chapter, as well as reasonable costs to abate a nuisance.

"Attractive nuisance" means any condition, instrumentality or machine that is unsafe and unprotected and thereby dangerous to young children by reason of their inability to appreciate the peril therein, and that may reasonably be expected to attract young children to the premises and risk injury by playing with, in or on it;

"Code Enforcement Officer" means the person(s) designated by the City Manager to enforce this chapter.

"Commercial vehicle" means a vehicle of a type required to be registered under the California State Vehicle Code used or maintained for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation or profit or designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property. Passenger vehicles that are not used for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation or profit, housecars, vanpools, and other vehicles exempt by the California State Vehicle Code are not considered commercial vehicles for purposes of this chapter.

Compost means the product resulting from controlled and contained biological decomposition of organic waste that is source separated from the municipal solid waste stream and which does not produce objectionable odors, insect problems or fire hazards and meets all other applicable municipal and state codes relating to compost.

"Landowner" means the person to whom land is assessed, as shown on the last equalized assessment roll of the county.

"Parkway" means that portion of a street right-of-way that lies between the property line and the outside edge of a gutter or gutter lip, including a driveway approach. Where no curb exists, "parkway" means the area of property from the property line to the edge of the pavement.

"Property" means any lot or parcel of land. For the purposes of this definition, "lot or parcel of land" means and includes any alley, sidewalk, parkway or unimproved public easement abutting such lot or parcel of land. (Ord. 1239 § 1, 1998: Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.040 Administration and enforcement.

The Code Enforcement Officer shall be responsible for the administration and enforcement of this chapter. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.050 Unlawful materials, conditions and activities.

It is unlawful for any landowner or person leasing, occupying, or having charge or possession of any real property in the City to keep, maintain, deposit or perform on such property any of the following:

A.    Rubbish or junk, including but not limited to refuse, garbage, food waste (with the exception of compost as defined in this chapter), trash, scrap metal or lumber, concrete, asphalt, tin cans, bottles, tires, litter, piles of dirt, abandoned, broken, discarded or unused furniture, stoves, sinks, toilets, cabinets, refrigerators, freezers, discarded or inoperable equipment, discarded building materials, yard waste (with the exception of compost as defined in this chapter), or other fixtures or appliances, that are:

1.    Not stored within an entirely enclosed space, and

2.    Visible from the public right-of-way or from neighborhood property;

B.    Combustible material likely to become easily ignited or debris resulting from any fire;

C.    Trash, garbage or refuse cans, bins, boxes or other such containers, where there is no closed lid in place, or where the can or containers are overflowing and are stored in front or side yards visible from public streets, unless in an enclosed or screened area according to City Code;

D.    Overgrown vegetation; dead, decayed, diseased or hazardous trees; weeds and other vegetation likely to harbor rats, vermin or nuisances or that constitute a fire hazard;

E.    Buildings that are abandoned, boarded up, partially destroyed, not properly secured, or partially constructed or incomplete after building permits have expired;

F.    Broken windows, graffiti, or building exterior or walls that are cracked, broken, deteriorated or in disrepair;

G.    Signs, both on-site and off-site (billboards), that advertise uses no longer conducted or products no longer sold on the premises, except where such signs are legally permitted;

H.    The disposal of oil, gasoline, other petroleum products, noxious chemicals, pesticides, or any gaseous, liquid, or solid wastes in such manner as to constitute a health hazard or degrade the appearance of or detract from the aesthetic and property values of neighboring properties;

I.    Performance of work on motor vehicles or motor vehicle engines or parts on public right-of-way or in yard areas of residential properties so as to be visible from public rights-of-way or neighboring properties, other than emergency repairs or minor maintenance, as determined by the Police Chief;

J.    Trailers, campers or similar vehicles or equipment that are being used for sleeping, cooking or living purposes;

K.    Construction activity, construction materials or excavation that is visible or accessible from public rights-of-way or neighboring properties and where a final inspection has not been obtained, on sites located within the C-2, C-P, CS, C-4, PM, M-2, and A zoning districts, that are not completely surrounded and secured by a six foot high chain link fence with slats or other materials as approved by the Planning Director;

L.    Abandoned, wrecked, dismantled, disrepaired or nonoperating boats and vehicles, (see Section 8.08.010) or parts thereof, which are not stored within an entirely enclosed garage and are visible from public rights-of-way or neighboring properties;

M.    Vehicles of any kind, boats, and other watercraft, parked or stored on residential properties within the City between the front-most wall of a residence and the front property line, unless parked in a driveway;

N.    Construction equipment and machinery and building supplies and materials stored in areas visible form public rights-of-way or neighboring properties unless part of an active and approved construction project;

O.    More than one commercial vehicle per property within residential zoning districts. No attachments of equipment or machinery used for business purposes shall be permitted on vehicles when the vehicles are not in use;

P.    Commercial vehicles having an unladen weight of more than three tons, or any truck-tractor and/or trailer irrespective of weight, in any residential district, except:

1.    While loading or unloading property; or

2.    When such vehicle is parked in connection with and in aid of the performance of a service to or on a property in the block in which such vehicle is parked;

Q.    Violation of any condition of a conditional use permit;

R.    Activities and uses not permitted within the zoning district within which a site is located, activities not permitted by a conditional use permit governing the site, and unpermitted home occupation activities;

S.    Conditions that may prove detrimental or dangerous to children, whether in a building, on the premises of a building, or on an unoccupied lot, in the form of:

1.    Abandoned and broken equipment,

2.    Abandoned and unsealed wells, shafts or basements,

3.    Hazardous or unprotected pools, ponds or excavations,

4.    Structurally unsound fences or structures,

5.    Neglected machinery,

6.    Lumber, trash or debris that may prove a hazard for inquisitive minors,

7.    Inoperative refrigerators and freezers, unless the door has been removed or locked. (Ord. 1239 § 2, 1998; Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.060 Maintaining public nuisances prohibited.

It is declared a public nuisance for any landowner or person leasing, occupying, directly controlling or having possession of any property in this City to maintain any condition described in Section 15.24.050 of this chapter, or to maintain any attractive nuisance. It shall not be the intent of the City that the ordinance codified in this chapter shall preempt any private nuisance action or any and all other legal remedies available to private parties. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.070 Abatement of unlawful conditions—Notice.

Whenever the Code Enforcement Officer has inspected and finds that conditions constituting a public nuisance exist thereon, the Code Enforcement Officer may use the procedures set forth in this chapter for the abatement of such nuisance.

A.    The Code Enforcement Officer shall issue a notice and abatement order, and mail a copy of such notice and order to the landowner and the person, if other than the landowner, occupying or otherwise in real or apparent charge and control of the property. The notice and order shall contain:

1.    The street address and a legal description sufficient for identification of the property on which the condition exists;

2.    A statement that the Code Enforcement Officer has determined that a public nuisance is being maintained on the property, with a brief description of the conditions that render the property a public nuisance;

3.    An order to secure all appropriate permits and to physically commence, within ten days from the date of service of the notice and order, and to complete within thirty days from such date, the abatement of the described conditions;

4.    A statement advising that the disposal of material involved in public nuisances shall be carried forth in a legal manner;

5.    A statement advising that if the required work is not commenced within the time specified, the Code Enforcement Officer will proceed to cause the work to be done, and bill the persons named in the notice for the abatement costs and administrative expenses and/or levy the costs against the property;

6.    A statement advising that any person having any interest or record title in the property may appeal the notice and order to City Council, or any action of the Code Enforcement Officer, within ten days from the date of service of the notice and order;

7.    A statement advising that the notice and order will be recorded against the property in the office of the County Recorder and that a lien may be placed on the property to cover abatement costs and administrative expenses.

B.    The notice and order, and any amended notice and order, shall be served by the following method:

1.    Personal service; or

2.    Certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt requested to each person as required pursuant to the provisions of subsection A of this section at the address as it appears on the last equalized assessment roll of the County, and as known to the Code Enforcement Officer. The address of the owner shown on the assessment roll shall be conclusively deemed to be the proper address for the purpose of mailing such notice. Simultaneously, the same notice may be sent by first class (regular) mail. If a notice that is sent by certified mail is returned unsigned, then service shall be deemed effective pursuant to regular mail, provided the notice that was sent by regular mail is not returned;

3.    Service by certified or regular mail in the manner described above shall be effective on the date of mailing;

4.    The failure of the person with an interest in the property to receive any notice served in accordance with this section shall not affect the validity of any proceedings taken under this code. If the owner of record, after diligent search cannot be found, the notice may be served by posting a copy thereof in a conspicuous place upon the property for a period of ten days and publication thereof in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county in which the property is located pursuant to Government Code Section 6062.

C.    Proof of service of the notice and order shall be documented at the time of service by a declaration under penalty of perjury executed by the person effecting service, declaring the time and manner in which service was made.

D.    After the City Council has affirmed the notice and order on appeal pursuant to Section 15.24.090 of this chapter, or in the event no hearing has been requested, and the nuisance has not been abated, the Code Enforcement Officer shall file in the Office of the County Recorder a certified copy of the notice of nuisance and order of abatement as set forth in subsection A of this section. The Code Enforcement Officer shall file a certificate with the County Recorder that the nuisance has been abated, whenever the corrections ordered shall have been completed, so that there no longer exists a public nuisance on the property described in the certificate; or the notice and order is rescinded by the City Council on appeal, or whenever the City abates the nuisance and the abatement costs and administrative expenses have been paid. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.080 Abatement work—Extension of time.

Upon receipt of a written request from any person required to comply with the order, the Code Enforcement Officer may grant an extension of time within which to complete the abatement, if the Code Enforcement Officer determines that such an extension of time will not create or perpetuate a situation imminently dangerous to life or property. The Code Enforcement Officer shall have the authority to place reasonable conditions on any such extensions. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.090 Abatement work—Appeal of notice.

Any person aggrieved by the action of the Code Enforcement Officer in issuing a notice and order pursuant to the provisions of this chapter may appeal to the City Council. If no appeal is filed within ten days of service of the notice and order, the action of the Code Enforcement Officer shall be final. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.100 Performance of abatement—City authority.

Abatement of the nuisance may, in the discretion of the Code Enforcement Officer, be performed by the City or by a contractor retained pursuant to the provisions of this code. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.110 Entering property for abatement work.

The Code Enforcement Officer may enter upon private property to abate the nuisance pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. No person shall obstruct, impede or interfere with any officer, employee, contractor or authorized representative of the City whenever such person is engaged in the work of abatement, pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, or in performing any necessary act preliminary to or incidental to such work, as authorized or directed pursuant to this chapter. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.120 Dangerous nuisance—Immediate abatement—Notice and costs.

Whenever the Code Enforcement Officer determines that a public nuisance is so imminently dangerous to life or adjacent property that such condition must be immediately corrected or isolated, the Building Official may institute the following procedures:

A.    Notice. The Code Enforcement Officer shall attempt to make contact through a personal interview, or by telephone, with the landowner or the person, if any, occupying or otherwise in real or apparent charge and control thereof. In the event contact is made, the Code Enforcement Officer shall notify such person or persons of the danger involved and require that such condition be immediately removed, repaired or isolated so as to preclude harm to any person or property.

B.    Abatement. In the event the Code Enforcement Officer is unable to make contact as herein above noted, or if the appropriate persons, after notification by the Code Enforcement Officer, do not take action as specified by such official, within twenty-four hours or such lesser time as circumstances may warrant in the discretion of the City Manager, then the Code Enforcement Officer may, with the approval of the City Manager, take all steps deemed necessary to remove or isolate such dangerous condition, or conditions, with the use of City forces or a contractor retained pursuant to the provisions of this code.

C.    Costs. The Code Enforcement Officer shall keep an itemized account of the abatement costs and administrative expenses incurred by the City in removing or isolating such condition or conditions. Administrative expenses may be recovered in the same manner that abatement costs are recovered pursuant to this chapter. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.130 Administrative and abatement costs.

Whenever a public nuisance as defined in this chapter is found to exist as a result of an inspection, the reasonable administrative expenses as determined by the City Council and actual abatement costs as set by City Council resolution, shall be paid by the property owner. The City Council shall, from time to time, determine and fix an amount to be assessed as administrative expenses and abatement costs for violations of this chapter. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.140 Costs of abatement—Record keeping.

The Code Enforcement Officer shall keep an itemized account of the expenses and costs incurred by the City in the abatement of any public nuisance under this chapter. Upon completion of the abatement work, the Code Enforcement Officer shall prepare a report specifying the work done, the itemized costs of the work for each property, including direct and indirect costs, a description of the real property, and the names and addresses of the persons entitled to service pursuant to Sections 15.24.070 through 15.24.090 of this chapter. Any such report may include expenses and costs on any number of properties, whether or not contiguous to each other. Each person named in the notice shall be jointly and severally liable for such abatement costs and administrative expenses for their property, and the amount of such costs and expenses shall be a debt owed to the City. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.150 Costs of abatement—Assessment—Notice protests.

A.    Unpaid Costs Forwarded to the City Clerk. When any costs assessed pursuant to this chapter remain unpaid for a period of sixty days or more after the date on which they were billed, the Code Enforcement Officer, in the Code Enforcement Officer’s discretion, may forward the abatement costs and administrative expenses report described in Section 15.24.130 and 15.24.140 of this chapter to the City Clerk.

B.    Hearing Notice. Upon receipt of the abatement costs and administrative expenses report, the Clerk shall fix a time and place for hearing and passing upon the report. The Clerk shall cause notice of the amount of the proposed assessment shown in this report to be given in the manner and to the persons specified in Section 15.24.070 of this chapter. Such notice shall contain a description of the property sufficient to enable the persons served to identify it, and shall specify the day, hour and place when the City Council will hear and pass upon the report, together with any objections or protests which may be raised by any landowner liable to be assessed for the costs of such abatement. Notice of the hearing shall be given not less than fifteen days prior to the time fixed by the Clerk for the hearing, and shall also be published once, at least fifteen days prior to the date of the hearing, in a newspaper of general circulation published in the City.

C.    Protests. Any interested person may file a written protest with the City Clerk at any time prior to the time set for the hearing on the report of the Code Enforcement Officer. Each such protest shall contain a description of the property in which the person signing the protest is interested, and the grounds of such protest. The City Clerk shall endorse on every such protest the date and time of filing, and shall present such protest to the City Council at the time set for hearing. Any interested person may also register a protest at the time of the hearing. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.160 Proposed assessment hearing.

Upon the day and hour fixed for the hearing, the City Council shall consider the report of the Code Enforcement Officer, together with any protests that have been filed with the City Clerk. The City Council may make such revision, correction or modification in the report as it may deem just, and when the City Council is satisfied with the correctness of the assessment, the report, and proposed assessment, as submitted or as revised, corrected or modified, shall be confirmed. The decision of the City Council on the report and the assessment and on all protests shall be final and conclusive. The City Council may adjourn the hearing from time to time. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.170 Confirmed assessment—Notice of lien.

A.    Notice of Lien. Immediately upon the confirmation of the assessment by the City Council, the Code Enforcement Officer shall execute and file in the office of the County Recorder a certificate in substantially the following form:


Pursuant to the authority vested in the Code Enforcement Officer by the provisions of the San Carlos Ordinance Code, said Code Enforcement Officer, on or about the ______ day of 19__, caused the abatement of a nuisance on real property at _________ (Assessor’s Parcel Number _________), and the City Council for the City of San Carlos, on the day of 19__, assessed administrative expenses and abatement costs upon said real property and the same has not been paid nor any part thereof. The City of San Carlos hereby claims a lien on said real property for the net expense of the administrative expenses and abatement costs in the amount of $________. This amount shall be a lien upon said real property until the sum has been paid in full and discharged of record.

Dated: This _____ day of 19__



B.    Recordation. Immediately upon the recording of the notice of lien, the assessment shall constitute a lien on the real property assessed. Such lien shall, for all purposes, be upon a parity with the lien of State and local taxes. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.180 Confirmed assessment—Collection.

A.    Assessment Book. The notice of lien, after recording, shall be delivered to the Tax Assessor of San Mateo County, who shall enter the amount on the County assessment book opposite the description of the particular property, and the amount shall be collected together with all other taxes thereon against the property. The notice of lien shall be delivered to the Auditor before the date fixed by law for the delivery of the assessment book to the County Board of Equalization.

B.    Collection. Thereafter, the amount set forth in the notice of lien shall be collected at the same time and in the same manner as ordinary City taxes are collected, and shall be subject to the same penalties and interest and to the same procedure under foreclosure and sale in case of delinquency as provided for ordinary City taxes. All laws applicable to the levy, collection and enforcement of City taxes are hereby made applicable to such assessment. The amount set forth in the notice of lien shall be returned to the City to the fund designated for code enforcement activities. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.190 Remedies of private parties.

The provisions of this chapter shall not affect the rights of private parties to pursue any and all legal remedies, including but not limited to private nuisance actions or actions for damages. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.200 Limitation of filing judicial action.

An owner or other person who has an interest in the property aggrieved at any proceeding taken on appeal by the City Council in affirming, reversing or modifying in whole or in part either the order finding and ordering the abatement of a public nuisance or the order determining the cost of abatement must bring judicial action to contest such decision within ninety days after the date of such decision of the City Council. Otherwise, all objections to such decision shall be deemed waived. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.210 Alternatives.

Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the City Council from ordering the City Attorney to commence a civil or criminal proceeding to abate a public nuisance as an alternative to the proceedings set forth in this chapter. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.220 Enforcement authority.

Enforcement of this chapter may be accomplished by the Code Enforcement Officer in any manner authorized by law. The procedures set forth in this chapter shall not be exclusive and shall not in any manner limit or restrict the City from enforcing other City ordinances or abating public nuisances in any other manner provided by law. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.230 Violation—Penalty.

A.    The owner or other person having charge or control of any such buildings or premises who maintains any public nuisance defined in this chapter, or who violates any order of abatement served as provided in this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

B.    Any occupant or lessee in possession of any such building or structure who fails to vacate the building or structure in accordance with an order given as provided in this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

C.    Any person who removes any notice or order posted as required in this chapter, for the purpose of interfering with the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

D.    Any person who obstructs, impedes or interferes with any representative of the City Council or with any representative of a City department or with any person who owns or holds any estate or interest in a building which has been ordered to be vacated, repaired, rehabilitated or demolished, or with any person to whom any such building has been lawfully sold pursuant to the provisions of this chapter when any of the aforementioned individuals are lawfully engaged in proceedings involving the abatement of a nuisance, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)

15.24.240 Violation—Abatement.

A.    Violations as a Misdemeanor or Infraction. Violations of this chapter may, in the City Attorney’s discretion, constitute either a misdemeanor, an infraction pursuant to Section 1.20.020(F) of this code; or may constitute a citable offense or any combination thereof. In addition, violations of this chapter may result in the payment of fines and fees by the property owner as established by City Council resolution for the recovery of administrative expenses and abatement costs.

B.    Chapter Provisions Not Exclusive. Notwithstanding the enforcement procedures as set forth in this chapter, the City may proceed to enforce any violation of its code in any manner authorized by law. (Ord. 1163 § 2 (part), 1994)