The City of Fresno has several ordinances that are designed to maintain a healthy, safe, and clean environment; carry out land use policy; and, preserve the quality of life standards that residents and businesses enjoy in our community. To be effective and efficient, the Neighborhood Revitalization Division needs the cooperation of residents and business owners.
Code Enforcement FAQs
There are many types of codes: Zoning Codes, Fire Codes, Uniform Building Codes, housing maintenance codes, and various health and safety codes. Because there are so many different codes-many involving complex technical or legal issues-residents frequently have questions about enforcement and about their role in keeping Fresno a great place to live and work.
We have made every attempt possible to ensure the accuracy of the information brief descriptions provided below. If your question is not listed or you require a more detailed answer, please consult the City of Fresno’s Municipal Code or contact the Neighborhood Revitalization Team at (559) 621-8400.
Studies have shown that where neighborhood blight exists, crime flourishes, and whenever crime flourishes, the quality of life of the community suffers and the community must direct additional resources. Police diligently attempt to remedy the criminal causes of neighborhood deterioration, but the problems are usually much more deep seated. Substandard housing, unsightly properties, and vacant structures draw the type of individuals that perpetuate criminal activity. These are problems that the police don’t respond to and require a comprehensive code enforcement plan to initiate a reversal in our communities’ worst blighted, gang and crime infested neighborhoods.
Neighborhood revitalization programs vary in scope, but all are intended to eliminate blight and reduce crime while enhancing safer residential and business stock and provide greater quality of life in our community.
Programs include abatement of:
- Abandoned buildings
- Hazardous conditions
- Substandard buildings
- Unpermitted work
- Illegal dumping of garbage and debris
- Improper building occupancy
- Overgrown grass and weeds/fire hazard violations
- Junk vehicles – abandoned or inoperable
- Overgrown foliage blocking stop signs, impeding sight of driveways or making corners dangerous
- Illegal food sales
- Parking violations on private property
- Encroachments in the public right-of-way (basketball goals, skateboard ramps)
As well as:
- Property maintenance
- Crime free multi-housing
Inspectors are responsible for enforcing building, health, food, and other safety standards at the local level. Inspectors are asked, in the course of their duties, to see that state and local codes are complied with; including being asked to engage in a number of dangerous situations, without being in uniform, without being armed, and usually, without law enforcement assistance. Inspectors most often deal with the same individuals as the police; gang members, drug dealers, homeless, and violent or mentally unstable individuals.
Typical enforcement tools would include inspections; infraction, misdemeanor, and administrative citations; notice of violations; notice and orders; hearings; criminal complaints; forcible entry; vehicle and demolition warrants.
Many people are not exactly sure what to do when they have a complaint regarding a possible violation. What we advise is to first talk with your neighbor or property owner, if possible. Politely explain the situation and ask for their cooperation in resolving the problem. If your “good neighbor” effort fails, call us. We are happy to discuss the situation and will explain what type of steps we might be able to take in order to have any violations corrected.
City Neighborhood Revitalization staff respond to complaints according to the impact of the violation on the community. Situations that appear to pose a serious risk to health and safety are given top priority; others are pursued in the order in which they are received. For all types of code complaints, the first step in the follow-up procedure is an inspection to verify if a code violation exists. In general, either a courtesy notice or a notice of violation is issued to the owner/tenant to enable them to correct the violation in a timely manner. The City may also issue citations or take court action if the situation poses a significant risk to the community or if the individual has ignored the notice of violation.
Please be prepared with specific information, such as:
- Address of the property
- Detailed description of the situation
- Your name, address, and telephone number (This information is kept confidential and is especially important if you leave a message or an email, and we need to contact you for more information or clarification regarding your complaint.)
- Length of time you have observed the situation
- If the complaint is regarding a vehicle, then provide the license plate number, make and model, and color of the vehicle. State if the vehicle is on the street or on private property.
- If your complaint is regarding debris, then provide a brief description of the type of debris. Examples of debris are: car parts, building materials, old tires, garbage. Give the general location of the items on the property.
- If your complaint is regarding an on-going activity rather than a physical violation, then provide a description of the activity, when and where it is occurring, and the day and times it occurs.
Some violations can be solved with a courtesy letter sent to the property owner/home owner. If not, an Inspector must personally observe the violation before initiating any enforcement action. Some investigations take longer than others to investigate and resolve. If the violation is an on-going activity rather than physical violations, the investigation may take longer to investigate and verify. However, you may call to inquire about our initial finding and to ascertain the status of the investigation process.
In many cases, the individual responsible for the code violation is given the opportunity to voluntarily correct the situation and comply with current codes without a penalty. If the correction is not made, then the individual may be subject to fines and civil injunctions or other penalties.
There are strict rules regulating the running of businesses out of a residence. Very few professions comply with the provisions of the home occupation code. Call the Planning Division at (559) 621-8277, if you are interested in more information. If you wish to report someone who you believe is in violation of the City Municipal Code, call Neighborhood Revitalization at (559) 621-8400.
It is unlawful to store or dump tires in residential or commercial areas, on vacant lots, or on City streets. Residents wishing to dispose of tires at the City operated waste tire facility.
Illegal dumping of trash and debris lowers the standards of our neighborhoods. Please keep your eyes open for this kind of activity. If you see someone illegally dumping, please do not confront anyone or do anything that would put you in danger. There are things that you can do, however.
Assistance is available in the following areas:
- Tenant/Landlord disputes and evictions.
Please call either the Better Business Bureau’s Dispute Settlement Center at (559) 222-8111; Central California Legal Services at (559) 441-1611; or Centro La Familia at (559) 237-2961.
- Advice on substandard housing complaints.
Minimum standards for dwellings are required by the Uniform Housing Code and the California State Health and Safety Code. These standards include such items as requiring adequate heating, plumbing, and electrical systems. If repairs are needed, tenants are encouraged to first work with their landlords to have repairs made. However, if assistance is needed, please call Neighborhood Revitalization at (559) 621-8400.
Excessive noise can detract from the quality of life in a neighborhood. It is important that neighbors work together, privately, to solve minor problems, like barking dogs. The City does not get involved in these disputes and, if courteous communication is not successful, you should contact a private attorney. For other, more serious or persistent problems:
Loud Parties: Call the Fresno PD at (559) 621-7000
Construction Noise: Call the Building and Safety Division at (559) 621-8104
Industrial or Commercial Noise: Call Neighborhood Revitalization at (559) 621-8400
There are rules for building a fence. Back yard and side yard fences cannot be over six feet in height. A front yard fence cannot be over three feet in height. For more information, call the Planning Department at (559) 621-8277.
Pool fences are required around swimming, wading, and Jacuzzis. To report over-height; dilapidated fences; or fences made without proper fencing materials; call Neighborhood Revitalization at (559) 621-8400.
Signs pay a vital role in identifying businesses. However, signs which are abandoned, illegal, or block public right-of-ways, have a blighting influence on the City. If you want more information regarding our existing signage requirements, please call (559) 621-8400.
To report problems and get other answers to questions regarding your weekly garbage pickup or trash around the container, contact the Solid Waste Management Division at (559) 621-1452. The accumulation of garbage, trash, appliances, car parts, old furniture, scrap materials, and plant clippings is considered a public nuisance.
The Neighborhood Revitalization Division is dedicated to the concept of education as empowerment. The Division’s outreach program is happy to help arrange a presentation or question-and-answer session. We can provide translators and have a variety of presentations, flyers, and handouts to share with the public To find out more, visit our Community Outreach Link or call us at (559) 621-8400.
While it is not against the Fresno Municipal Code to have a vacant house, having one that is blighted is. Long term vacant buildings often have overgrowth, deteriorating roofs, faded/chipped siding or paint, etc. It is best that we check out every reported vacant building regardless if it is open to the public or not. This way, Neighborhood Revitalization can determine if the property or the house are blighted enough to address them with our Vacant Building Ordinance.
Recreational vehicles may be parked or stored on private property as long as:
- They are enclosed within a legal structure, or
- They are within a side or rear yard enclosed by a solid wall or fence between 5 feet and 6 feet in height, and,
- They are not lived in while parked.
Vehicles parked on private residential property must be parked on driveways, in a garage, or under a carport. Vehicles cannot be parked on dirt, lawn, or landscape areas.
Vehicles that are inoperable and are sitting on a vacant lot or private property are considered blight, and oftentimes are a hazard to the public. They cannot be parked on the street or stored on private property unless fully enclosed within a legal structure, i.e. garage. Car covers are not acceptable. To report inoperable vehicles: